Show up, virtually
Many folks have adopted digital meet-up platforms like Zoom and HouseParty to host hangouts with friends and special events despite the current ban on physical gatherings of more than 10. Kristen Kaza, principal of No Small Plans Productions -- an intersectional event production company and the co-founder of Reunion Chicago, a sliding scale events space for women, LGBTQ+ & POC creatives, brought her monthly dance party Slo 'Mo: Slow Jams For Queer Fam online in light of COVID-19.
“The response was swift and spread fast with great support and appreciation. It was incredibly uplifting to witness. I knew that it would really resonate but I didn't expect over 5,000 views and donations from over 200 people,” said Kaza of the night’s experiment. “The best part was seeing everyone connect in the feeds and share their videos and photos dancing and feeling good! It truly felt like a unifying moment.
“We've had an amazing response and take that support seriously. With the funds raised after paying ourselves and a stipend to the Whistler [the bar Slo’ Mo usually hosts at], we're establishing reserve funds for other folks in our community impacted by social distancing. And we are thinking of how to make this kind of online content sustainable and more streamlined, as we rapidly learn about the many platforms we could use to share it. There is definitely a learning curve, so people eager for more online parties, classes and programs should have grace with promoters and artists who have just been faced with the daunting challenge of how to use them in a matter of days. But great things are and will continue to come of this.”
Spread the word!
Today, word of mouth has also gone digital. Businesses can be made with just one tweet or Instagram post that catches fire. Every day, sharing on social media exposes millions of people to each other, websites, services and causes they would otherwise never know.
A food and essential items crisis pantry organized by non-profit Brave Space Alliance, the city’s first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ resource center on the South Side for queer, non-binary, and trans folks of color got a boost after President Barack Obama tweeted local media outlet Block Club Chicago’s feature on its efforts. The center in Hyde Park is currently collecting non-perishable food items, hygiene products, baby food, diapers, and more.
In this time of self-quarantine, where connection -- particularly to clientele -- can feel tenuous, a link or kind post can remind folks of why they started these businesses in the first place. Maybe even start with this article.