Community-building in the time of corona

Like many of you, my family and I are spending a lot more time together than usual. Never before has the two-user Netflix limit been more of an issue, and my youngest daughter’s baking skills are being put to the test with some delicious results. All of this time on the inside looking out reminds me of what we have to look forward to now.
Although, like every organization, we’ve had to cancel and postpone many planned KCF events, we are still looking forward and planning for the future. The need to plan our upcoming events is more important now than ever. The spirit of community will return to Kentlands and Lakelands after this pandemic has passed. We just don’t know precisely when it will reemerge and exactly what it will look like in the face of ongoing precautions.
I am using this time to plan a vacation. We are anticipating the highlights, booking our tickets, and making sure we don’t miss something important. Once I knew a man who was planning an overseas vacation, and began to learn the language of the country he would be visiting a year before his trip. He told me he did this so he would have a full year of anticipation. He reasoned that the anticipation would make the trip much more special. I think we need to listen to heed his advice. We need to embrace anticipation.
I was recently asked how the Foundation builds community, which is the central tenet of our mission statement. I responded, in part, that one way to build community is through shared experiences and memories. Without a doubt this time spent at home will be not be soon forgotten, and the sharing of experiences beyond our own households has been put on hold for the time being. Despite this hold, we need to anticipate everything we will be able to participate in as a volunteer, a participant or an audience member.
Not knowing exactly when this pandemic will subside and the shelter-in-place mandate will be lifted or if social distancing recommendations will persist into the foreseeable future, it’s challenging right now to develop contingency plans for many of the community-building programs the Foundation sponsors. The Kentlands Film Society’s final two films for the 2019-2020 season originally scheduled for March and May are in limbo. We may not know for weeks or even months whether the screenings at the Arts Barn can be rescheduled in a reasonable timeframe.
Similarly, upcoming productions by the Kentlands Community Players are on hold, as are meetings of the Kentlands Acoustic Jam, the Kentlands Wine Club, the newly revitalized Go Green Group and social programs organized by the Village at Kentlands & Lakelands, which serves the most vulnerable segment of our community. The fabulous Kentlands Under the Lights community dinner and the Foundation’s annual meeting, both scheduled for June, are clearly in jeopardy. But planning must go on.
In the past weeks, I have been anticipating our annual 5K race—our biggest annual charitable fundraiser—and the classical concert that was initially planned for the spring and now slated for the fall. These two events are on the calendar for September. The committees are meeting—albeit virtually via video- or teleconference—and planning. The race is open for registration on the RunSignUp website and accepting applications for runners and volunteers. I urge you to sign up now for the race.
Mark your calendar for September and begin to anticipate everything that makes this race wonderful–the balloon arch, the kids fun run, the singing of the national anthem by the Gaithersburg Young Artist Award winner, the runners lining up before the gun. Mark your calendar to attend the concert on September 20. Plan your menu for the dinner you will share on the clubhouse lawn, even if your lawn chair or the blanket you spread on the grass still has to be six feet from the next chair or blanket. Anticipate the community we build by these shared experiences. This anticipation will make the events even more special.