Good deeds and rural communities go hand in hand.
It’s ironic that we have recently been promoting shutting off our devices, so we can reconnect with people through real, in-person conversations. Yet, here we are relying on those online devices and connections to get us through the next few weeks as we work on keeping our distance to manage COVID-19.
The online world has become an important community connection to help us get through this necessary social distancing one day at a time.
Acts of kindness are happening all across rural Alberta, including in Nanton, which is located about one hour south of Calgary.
Recently, Nanton photographer Lori Loree hit the streets (at a safe distance) to take stunning porch portraits of the community’s families.
She was out all weekend, covering a lot of ground, taking family pictures for free.
“My heart is full Nanton,” said Loree. “I spent the last seven hours photographing our beautiful town with my Nanton Porch Project #nantonporchproject … all at a distance.
“I saw families that couldn’t hug their kids because they just came back from overseas, seniors at the Silver Willow Lodge having a laugh, people enjoying the day with their kids, and lots and lots of people making the best of a bad situation. Nanton, thank you for supporting my business in good times. I’m here to say I’m supporting you in the bad.”
Community dance party
Nanton residents also came together recently for a virtual online streaming dance party.
Participants downloaded an app so everyone could listen to the same music, at the same time. They were even able to request their favourite dance music. People were also asked to dress up, decorate their homes, and send pictures and videos.
As a nod to the community’s small businesses, Nanton mayor, Jennifer Handley, and David Gale, owner of euroPRODUCTIONS, asked individuals and families to purchase something from local business owners to donate as a prize for the dance party.
Digital community can be fun and exciting, too!
Jamming with the neighbours
A recent outdoor jam session brought out many smiles in Nanton when Dan McLelland, on one side of the street, and Lloyd Schlosser, on the other, entertained their neighbours with their guitar skills, while Luke Cummings, one block over, helped out on the drums.
“It was a bit chilly, but we gave it a go,” said McLelland. “Seems we were a bit loud. Seems we brought a little joy to our community till our fingers got cold, and the battery froze on Lloyd’s pedal.”
He added people from all the community heard the music and walked by to see what was happening, including the mayor.
“Smiles were made, tears were shed, it was quite the experience,” McLelland added.
Plans are in the works to do it again, hopefully, when it is a bit warmer.
More kindness in Nanton
The little acts of kindness seemed to have spread throughout the community, judging by these comments from area residents:
Collene says: “[I] drove down to my son’s place with groceries and supplies. Made a “feel good” bag with a bottle of wine … bath soaps … and the games we had at our house for the kids! … [L]eft it on the doorstep and backed away!
Joyce drives her daughter to her doctor’s appointment, feeds her family, and takes the kids outside for fresh air.
Tammy says: “All of us at work are sending kind messages and sharing funny stories to lighten the mood of the days when we are trying to cope with all the changes.”
Genavieve checks in on friends and family with a text or call while staying home.
Dana is painting Nanton rocks or “kindstones” to leave besides pathways to make someone smile.
Dianne emailed her library family and is just being nice to everyone.
Nightly “tuck-ins” a comfort during uncertain times
When Longview’s Fawna Bews goes to bed, she takes a few minutes to send out a Facebook message tucking her family and friends in for the evening.
The nightly tuck-ins first started when Bews, who has a master’s degree in counselling, was running the Hearts and Minds Mental Health Program in the nearby High River schools after the 2013 flood.
With people staying at home to help prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading, she started to get requests to send out the messages of comfort again.
She says it’s interesting to see the diversity of people to whom the messages appeal.
“I think we are all looking for common messages that we are going to be okay,” says Bews. “That we will get through this, that we have some power.”
She plans to eventually to revisit these tuck-in messages from both the time of recovery after the flood and now and perhaps compile them into a book.
A sample tuck-in from Fawna
Hiiiiiiii, is it time for bed?
If it’s not, save this for later.
If so …
Take a running leap into bed — kick around a little bit — did you do that as a kid? When you get under your covers just give your legs a little shake and finally wiggle and shuffle and twist, turn and tussle until you are comfortable. Then, get 20 per cent MORE comfortable!
Once you find your spot, melt. Melt into your bed, become as heavy and landed as possible — even visualize roots coming out of you — going through the bed, through the floor and down, down deep into the Earth. Roots both let things go and draw things up so with your out breath let allllll of the stress, pressure and unanswerable thoughts go — let it ooze out of those roots. With the in-breath, breathe in Spring. The new life, the smell of soil, grass and fresh rain.
As many times as you like, in-breath and out breath. Go to sleep with Spring in your heart.
Tuck, tuck, tuck — you are alive, I’m so glad. 💚🌱
– Lorraine Hjalte