Good Ideas for March 30, 2020

Every once in a while having an English degree comes back to haunt me.  Today as I was trying to figure out what to say, I noticed that the tree outside my bedroom window is just getting its leaves.  They’re in this stage when they first come out of the bud where they’re first sort of orange-gold colored, then glowing yellow, then green.  This isn’t a great picture, but you can see the colors:



There’a  poem by Robert Frost that I recited on the Facebook Live post today that uses that moment of radiance, of special-ness, as a metaphor for how quickly a special moment can fade.  And that made me think in a new way about what we’re all facing right now.

It’s self-evident, almost to the point of trivializing, to say that we’re in a crisis.  Those of you who work day to day with local and independent businesses have been living in the center of a profound crisis now for weeks.  And it’s not going away.  It already feels like it’s been forever.

The audacious message of that poem is… it’s not forever.  Looking back, it will feel like a blip in time.  If you have had small children and gone through periods of night terrors or potty training or teething, you know what I mean.  Those nights of crying, the bathroom panics… those times seem to last forever when your in the middle of them, but the cheaply-made toys and seats and books we bought to help those transitions happen long outlive that moment of misery.  If you don’t believe me, you can come and visit my basement.

We’re all in a moment like that now.  Even as we do our best to help with the pain and the fear and the misery, we have an opportunity to begin to think more broadly.  To think about how this moment helps shift our awareness, our community’s awareness, of what matters in a community. Of why these businesses matter, and why their value isn’t just counted in transactional dollars and cents.  Of how we can rethink our purchasing, our eating, our choices to reinforce the community we want to live in. And for those of us who already take those messages to heart, how to spotlight, demonstrate, advocate for those choices, not just among those who already get it, but across the entire community, the entire spectrum of the systems that govern and shape our communities.

The gold flower-leaves that I spotted this morning are already more and more leaf-like in the afternoon.  By tomorrow, they will look like every other leaf – flat, green,shiny.  The moment where you can imagine them being anything other than a leaf will be already passed.


Today’s Good Idea had to do with developing local short-term bridge loans to help those businesses that do plan to use the federal loan programs to make it through from now to when those are actually processed.  In best case scenarios, that’s a couple of weeks — weeks where rent and utilities and payroll continue to pile up.  Eric Avner of the Haile Foundation in Cincinnati floated the idea this morning of low- or no- interest bridge loans from a foundation or local government or nonprofit secured by a EIDL or PPP loan application in process.  That should be a very low risk way to leverage a foundation or program’s resources, and even deploy some of its investment monies to meet a crucial short term need without risking its endowment.   A definite Good Idea.  But  I don’t have any examples of any communities doing this specifically yet, so if you come across one, please let me know.

Thanks.  Feel free to reach out with other Good Ideas to share or brainstorm how to take advantage of the leaf-flower moment in your community.  Even though we’re worried, it’s time to go get ’em.










nature’s first greeen is gold — fleeting opportunity.  Ideas from unexpected places

Challenge: stimulus.

  1. no interest short term bridge loan?  Manhattan chamber 9/11 story.  Hope. caring.

2.Collaborate — orgs. joint online fund raiser.  Joint recovery initiatives


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