As Northside Denver residents wrapped up their first week of quarantine, Governor Jared Polis reminded us of how important it is to stay connected, even while keeping our distance.
“It is also important to maintain emotional connections with those who are important to you, said the Governor. “That means using Facetime, using video chat, if you have kids getting on a Google chat to let them talk to their friends. We all need that fellowship now. Spiritual fellowship and social fellowship.”
Indeed, as people settle into their new normal of social distancing we are coming up with imaginative ways to socialize and participate such as Zoom book clubs and happy hours, Facetime conversations with those who can’t get out and Google Hangouts to stay in touch with school friends. Northsiders are being resourceful to see friends and family and take part in the things we used to do.
Netflix Party, which allows people to sync and watch movies, now has over a million users. According to the New York Times, more than 600,000 people downloaded Zoom in a single day recently. Google Docs are being used by teens for group chats.
At Ohana Yoga and its sister studio Oasis Yoga classes are now streaming online. Alyssa Manny says it is like creating an entirely new business. She says thousands of people are taking advantage of the opportunity to connect through software platforms. “There is an overwhelming sensation of grace around the opportunity to show down,” says Manny. It’s fascinating how now we’re not in social proximity and are actually innovating new ways to connect.”
Kelly Williams is a realtor who works from home and now socializes from home. “We had a happy hour with Mark’s mom Friday over Facetime and she LOVED it! She was working on a puzzle we gave her for Christmas and showed us she was about 50 pieces away from finishing. She was also able to show me her new couch that I had not seen. We did the same thing with other friends on Saturday evening.”
With schools and universities closed, Blair, a senior at CU Boulder who calls Sunnyside home, is finishing up a class on Zoom. “It’s my best class. My teacher of Foundations of Ethical Leadership is well versed in Zoom and he’s very supportive about the entire process.” Students see his face and hear his voice. The teacher puts them in breakout groups. “It’s funny. I get to see my classmates’ faces. I still get to feel like it’s a classroom even if it’s a virtual classroom.”
Avery is a teacher who lives in Sunnyside. She stays in touch with friends and family with GroupMe and WhatsApp. “With so much going on right now, I’m so glad I have an intelligent, motivational, and funny tribe to get me through this. I can’t imagine going through this social distancing without the internet and all of our other social platforms, and ways of communicating.” She says Google Hangouts are huge among her friends too. One of her favorite ways to stay in touch is an Instagram game: “See a ____. Send a _____.” Her friends use this to show off their dogs and even how good they are at doing pushups.
If you need any more proof that online tools can be uplifting, look no further than the Colorado Symphony playing “Ode to Joy.” Each member performed with their own instrument in their own homes, and video was stitched together to raise the roof. Now that’s music to our ears.
Vicky Collins is a freelance television producer and journalist with a diverse portfolio that includes network news, cable programming, Olympic sports, corporate and non-profit videos. Vicky has created an Online Community called Bucket List Community Cafe which is a digital news site for Denver’s Northside.