A Letter from Ruth
April 2, 2020
I’ve been thinking a lot about these words: unprecedented, unimaginable, unknown. Perhaps like many of you, I keep notes on the moments from lectures and conversations that particularly move me, and sometimes when I need solace or inspiration, I return to those notes. The first season I worked at SAL, we hosted Rebecca Solnit, author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost. “To be without a story,” she said on that spring night in 2014, “is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions, like arctic tundra or sea ice.”
I think one of the hardest things about our current moment is that there is so much we do not, and cannot, know. Our story of these times and how we navigate and grieve and make sense of this is still emerging. And it does indeed feel, at times, like being lost in a vast world. I’ve also been thinking of Rebecca Solnit because I found her recently re-aired conversation with Krista Tippet incredibly hopeful and comforting. She explores how, in disasters such as earthquakes or post-Katrina New Orleans, incredible community and resilience and hope arise, but we aren’t as aware of them because of the more dominant stories we are accustomed to telling about disasters.
And so in this moment, I’ve been trying to authentically feel and acknowledge the ways this time is frightening and painful, while also looking under the ice for the alternate stories of hope and possibility rising up. At SAL, we’re learning new ways of supporting the community (read on for news of our first online event!) and one another. In our staff meeting this week, we got a virtual tour of the incredible resources for students and teachers the WITS team is compiling. We’ve become pros at Zoom (ok, maybe we need to work on our synchronized hand-waving).
And even though we’re working remotely, we’re closer than ever. We’ve created an internal Slack channel for laughter and inspiration, which contains everything from moving poems to raucous dance parties to favorite recipes to news of goats roaming Welsh towns. Finding new ways to connect has been both a salve and a lifeline, as the #SALMoments have been for me as well, and I hope perhaps for you.
We’re saying to one another and saying to you, We’re in this together. We’re saying, You are not alone. We’re saying, These stories are also true. We’re buying books from the independent bookstores we love and sharing the books we’re (thankfully) getting lost in. We’re taking long walks with our dogs and our families, and we’re walking together toward whatever comes next.
I’d love to hear what you think of our new offerings, and what’s giving you solace and bringing you light during these times. Please write me any time at [email protected].
Still taking deep breaths and reading and writing and walking with you,
SAL Executive Director