The Case for Creativity During the COVID-19 Crisis

Amanda A. Daniels, Special to The Oak Leaf

Crisis is the mother of creativity and innovation. As such, creativity may well be instinctive by way of crisis. A change in some form or another likely sparks one in accessing a new path that was not previously considered. In order to meet a newly developed demand whether externally or internally, one must be stirred and as a result, willing to act. Besides this fact, change is often viewed as unwelcoming and is often times not embraced. However, it is during these moments of calamity where most growth is witnessed and creativity’s potential actualized. In this light, today’s climate has become riddled with safety precautions, social isolations and required work from home situations due to an unrelenting virus. COVID-19 appears to want to dominate the lives of the living, yet also stimulate minds seeking a way to endure safely in a less traditional manner in overcoming COVID-19’s potentially deadly grasp. Therein, lies knowing how to navigate through this new territory with ingenuity, which is not only valuable, but also deemed survival.

COVID-19 has arrived and social isolation has proceeded along with it. From school and business closures to canceled entertainment venues and social gatherings, this virus has impacted how we as humans interact with one another. We now take extra precautionary measures when we are near individuals. For example, social distancing is practiced by keeping 6 feet away from one another in grocery stores and in places most frequented by groups of people in close proximity. Due to this phenomenon, humans have had to get creative in how they maintain social and intimate connections. Touching, hugging, and kissing is no longer the order of the day and therefore, strongly discouraged in light of virus.

What is welcome? Facetiming as well as other mediums that excludes physical contact. Some individuals have gone so far as to set “Netflix dates” by utilizing Facetime and streaming Netflix together from separate homes to continue social connections. What’s more, families who reside under same roof are currently utilizing their bedrooms as quarantine areas and when engaging in close proximity, doing so with masks. This safety method is also seen during travel. In this instance, individuals are seen masked up while riding together in many forms of transportation such as automobiles, buses, and trains. This practice is not simply due to maintaining well health but also part of the “shelter in place order” which requires social distancing and “masking up.”

Moreover, schools have also been hard pressed due to COVID-19. To keep social distance in practice and the virus at bay, students from all grade levels and colleges are now attending instruction via online platforms. For example, elementary school teachers from New Haven Unified School District located in Union City, California are reporting to empty classes in the morning to video-record lectures for their students as part of continuing with lesson plan protocol. In essence, teachers are still teaching and students are still learning. That said, staying home and away from other beings is proving to save lives and one that requires social separation and distance education to ensure safety measures are met.  In light of classes held online, students are home and some need supervision and creative stimulation, like 4-year-old, Prakash Vindero of Fremont, California. Prakash is in preschool but is now schooled at home during the shelter in place order. According to his mother Indira Vindero, Prakash needs constant engagement as he gets bored easily so she has become inspired to create hands-on projects that he will enjoy. Because Prakash enjoys plants, Indira has created a mini garden in the family’s backyard to facilitate Prakash’s learning while also engaging him in something he loves.

Meanwhile, publication sources online realize this need that has risen for parents of young children concerning entertainment and learning at home. One such source composed a parent’s survival plan for shelter in place. The Strategist compiled a list for parents to apply to their children’s daily activities in the home while complying with social pause (Snook, 2020). Interestingly enough and in the name of creativity, most parents found entertaining their child while learning was conducive to in-home success. On the other hand, some parents mimicked daily school activities with their children such as, “closing circle time” at the end of the day. In this matter, creating a connection of school and fun produced positive results for quarantined parents and their children.

Businesses, too, are no exception for safety measures. In fact, those organizations not deemed essential such as food, health and law enforcement have been subjected to the “shelter in place” health order and thereby, closed until further notice. Furthermore, this situation presents as challenging for those who need to continue to bring in financial means to care for their families, yet unable to do so as a result of health emergency order. For instance, Maxine Montez owns a beauty shop in the San Francisco Bay Area that has since closed due to the virus. COVID-19 has caused her a severe financial loss because of fear of contracting the virus and remaining compliant with emergency health order. In addition, she feared not having enough monetary means to pay for her family’s necessities. Looking to other forms of employment and knowing its inherent risk, Maxine became employed with Amazon’s warehouse to provide money for her family’s basic necessities. Still, due to most current scare a few weeks ago of one Amazon warehouse employee coming down with COVID-19 and the uncomfortable conditions of working in close proximity to other warehouse workers, Maxine decided to quit. Her next plan of action was to discover a means to sign up for a small business loan. When she contacted her bank concerning a loan, she was met with response of, “We have a waiting list. You may fill out an application online.” Maxine stated she filled out an application online, immediately. Now that she has completed this process and waits for notification from the bank, she brainstorms how to find an alternative method in supplying her family’s financial means. In fact, her only other option may just be operating her salon “under the table” while “masking up” for her and clients in order to solidify a sense of safety and security from COVID-19 while she remains brave enough to perform salon services and her clients are not fearful of receiving them. Business damage such as Maxine’s salon-shop situation is likely not an isolated incident. As a matter of fact, creativity is making its debut, where a business is not considered “essential” and therefore depends on his or her owner’s ingenuity, to continue to thrive.

Another challenge encouraging creativity due to COVID-19 is seen within entertainment platforms and more specifically, nightlife. To further prevent spread of the Covid virus, California has become less restrictive on alcohol. According to the Mercury News, “California restaurants may now sell beer, wine, and pre-mixed drinks or cocktails,” for pick-up or delivery as long as it has “a secure lid or cap” (without a hole for sipping or a straw) and is sold with food. California has also lifted a ban on alcohol sold through business drive-thru windows. This method allows for businesses to maintain some form of financial stability in the wake of COVID-19 while also complying with emergency health orders (San Jose Mercury News, 2020).

With that nice alcoholic drink for pick up, arrives an alternative form of musical entertainment to go along with it. Entertainers and recording artists  have applied creative measures in  entertaining  audiences during emergency order as well. In fact, some musical recording artists are offering in home concerts for their fans. Hip Hop Hollywood has indicated that Neo-Soul artist, Erykah Badu will perform a “Corona Concert” from her bedroom which will cost a $1. Another entertainer has offered to Facetime interested individuals for $950. However, she was later criticized for attempting to exploit a health emergency situation for financial gain (Simpkins, 2020).

Further entertainment sources, such as shopping, have also been impacted. In keeping with social distance requirements, many individuals have resorted to purchasing activities online if they had not been doing so prior to the viruses’ arrival. For example, Stacy Evans of Newark, California has never enjoyed shopping online, stating, “Shopping online does not give me the full experience I enjoy when in a mall type of atmosphere and besides, I can’t try on shoes over a computer.” Evans, however stated that due to the COVID-19 epidemic, she has been forced to utilize shopping platforms online in order to obtain daily living materials because malls have subsequently closed.

Although stores have closed their doors to consumers to prevent spread of virus while encouraging online purchasing, workers from said stores who have since shut down temporarily due to health hazard are impacted by financial loss. Similar to salon shop owner Maxine Montez who has struggled with meeting basic financial needs because of the  shelter in place order, these workers are also in crises. Most of these individuals are faced with choice of working to obtain financial means to care for themselves and family from alternative sources of employment such as Door dash and Amazon Warehouse, though also being placed at high risk for COVID-19 contraction. Because essential workers such as those who prepare food or deliver material goods for Door dash and Amazon are permitted to work, some people will opt to fulfill this role while putting their health at risk in order to meet financial needs.

Some individuals, however, will clearly have no choice and will utilize creativity as a means of survival by doing what they can in order to remain safe while subjected to risks of COVID-19 contraction. For example, Lydia Barones of Fremont, California decided to deliver food to Door dash customers to supplement income that was lost from her part time job because of stores closures. During this time, masks were not widely available and Barones was forced to utilize scarfs as face coverings. According to Barones, “many times I picked up food and delivered to customers while not knowing how much at risk I was in for contracting virus from others who were not wearing facial masks, those were scary times for me.” Like Baroness and many others, compromising situations as well as emotional barriers presented at every turn in order to make financial ends meet. Questions posed themselves to their minds, similar to, Should I take this at-risk job for sustenance and risk my health in process? What will happen if I contract COVID-19? Then what? The means to be artistic in those moments also represented a need to survive and that was the case for those subjected to these self-conscious inquiries.

Crisis is inevitable. COVID-19 arrived and reminded society of that notion. What’s more, creativity followed closely behind when a steadily increasing virus forced school, store and non-essential closures. Amidst financial challenges, some people found it imperative to discover new avenues in meeting their family’s basic necessities of life once their jobs were impacted. Some were forced to get creative when performing at risk employment tasks by resorting to existing clothing items to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19. Parents now work from home as a result of complying with emergency order now relied on alternative methods of occupying their children’s boredom while meeting academic and entertainment needs. Through these challenges presented by way of COVID-19, all beings were forced to think outside of the box, not only in the name of creativity but for continued existence as well. To that end, this is the case COVID-19 will forever be known for and hopefully, never to return again once eliminated.

 

Amanda Alysia is passionate about law, justice and truth. She is a current student of law and lover of positive vibrations and light, wherein  all good things come about for the good of all those involved.

 

References

Simpkins. J. (2020. March). Erykah Badu Announces $1 Online Corona Concert From Bedroom Retrieved from: https://www.hiphollywood.com/2020/03/erykah-badu-announces-1-online-1corona-concert-from-bedroom/ .

Webeck, E. (2020 March 2). Coronavirus: Emergency measure makes it easier for California restaurants to sell alcohol and for you to get it. The Mercury News. Retrieved from https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-emergency-measure-makes-it-easier-for-restaurants-to-sell-alcohol-and-for-you-to-get-it/.

Snook, R. (2020 March 27). The Shelter-in Place Survival Plan for Parents. New York The Strategist. Retrieved from https://nymag.com/strategist/2020/03/things-to-do-with-kids-while-quarantined.html.