There is a common assumption that all of Earthsong became a “bubble” during the Covid lockdowns, but we are much too diverse for that. We have residents who continued to work in face-to-face essential services, and older people with health vulnerabilities. We have toddlers who would rush up to everyone if given the chance, and adults with differing approaches to distancing and mask wearing. We have many who are vaccinated, and others who are hesitant or have actively chosen not to get vaccinated. So like other Auckland households, Earthsong households largely maintained their own bubbles, although our proximity made it easy for single households to bubble-up or grandparents to join with their children and grandchildren. It is easy to talk with neighbours on the path at a distance, to do the shopping for an older neighbour, to keep in touch enough to know when a neighbour is needing support. There is always the sense of belonging and security of being surrounded (at a distance) by people we know and have a relationship with.
And although the diversity of views and approaches to Covid does cause friction and conflict at times, the key difference is that we talk about it together, with the intention of assuming good intent, of a diversity of views being welcome, and with a curiosity to understand the views of others. All of our regular meetings have shifted on-line while physical distancing is required, and we have had four on-line “circles” over the last 3 months specifically to share our perspectives about Covid and how we can include differing approaches while being respectful of the needs of all. We haven’t solved it, but at least we are in dialogue, a more creative space from which we can navigate this new territory.
Our common house has been closed for 3 months now except for the shared laundry, and we have a lot to sort out before common meals resume. But at least it is summer, and we can take full advantage of the common green for picnics and outside gatherings. I can’t imagine how it is for those in separate suburban houses, but even without having full access to our shared spaces, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.