Physical* Distancing Activities, Staff Picks: Tips and suggestions for abiding the tide of isolation (Part 2).

By Emily Spacek

It has been just over a week now since the state issued a prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people, excepting essential services. For many of us, it has been even longer since we began avoiding close contact with other people and public spaces in an attempt to “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of the coronavirus.

What has emerged can almost be described as a coronavirus culture— a culture of dealing with fear, restriction and distance, but also a sense of neighborliness and a willingness to pull together.

Some of what has emerged may seem silly (the hoarding of toilet paper) or ignorant and dangerous (a disregard for the tactic of physical distancing). But look a little deeper and you might find note of something else. Musicians are on social media hosting virtual benefit concerts from their living rooms. Friends are hosting webinar dinners and chat room happy hours. All over, people are finding incredibly imaginative ways to find connections even when they’re not in the same physical space together.

One way we, here at CATALYST, hope to find connection and foster resilience is by sharing the coping activities that we’ve been implementing for our time at home not working.

This is the second in our weekly series.


What we’re listening to:

“I’ve been listening to Staying In podcast with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon about how to find some enjoyment in quarantining and social distancing.” —Eve Rickles-Young, CATALYST Board of Trustees.

“For the last week I’ve been revisiting my favorite albums released in 2019. Maybe I’m looking back for something. Today I spent a lot of time with Titanic Rising, from Weyes Blood. Its melodramatic, celestial and heart achy. Perfectly nostalgic.” —Emily Spacek, CATALYST distribution manager and writer.


What we’re watching:

“I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix. I recommend Self Made, the story of America’s first self-made female millionaire. She was an amazing entrepreneur who started a black hair care company.” —Eve Rickles-Young.


What we’re reading:

“I’m “reading” the Audible version of Ali S. Khan’s 2016 book, The Next Pandemic. A sort of Indiana Jones at the front lines of the wild world of infectious diseases, Khan tells an entertaining scientific adventure story full of personal anecdotes as he tracks down the roots of various virus epidemics that teeter on the threshold of pandemics. Even if you flunked college intro to anatomy & physiology (as I did, missing the mandatory cadaver class), you’ll still find this book enlightening—especially now!” — Greta deJong, CATALYST’s editor and founder.

“For poetry, I’m reading The Flame, a collection of drawings, lyrics, poems and short stories by Leonard Cohen published posthumously. I grew interested in the book after listening to a Fresh Air episode with Cohen’s son, who oversaw the book’s completion and publication.

I recently finished Peluda, by Melissa Lozado-Oliva, a collection of stories and personal memories examining, amongst other themes, the Latinx experience in a whitewashed beauty world.” —Emily Spacek.


What we’re eating:

“I am making big pots of beans with lots of dried herbs and spices from my cabinet, any citrus peel, and onions/ garlic I have left since the last time I braved the grocery store. Soak them overnight with water and salt, simmer them on the stove in that same water with all the spices and flavorings you can find plus a lot of olive oil for hours until they are tender.

I always have frozen peas in my freezer so I can make a simple pasta with peas, lemon, and cheese.

I’ve also been raiding the freezer for any ingredients I froze a while ago. I recently found some shredded summer zucchini to make zucchini bread.” —Eve Rickles-Young.

“I’ve been trying to use more of the grains and legumes in my pantry besides rice, my habitual go-to. So far, I’ve learned that couscous works for breakfast under hash and an egg. Mixing pasta and lentils? It can be done.” —Emily Spacek.

“At February’s Farm & Food Conference in Cedar City, I learned about the wonderful health benefits of liver paté. In early March I stocked up on frozen liver (from local, grassfed cows) at the Winter Market. My favorite recipe so far also includes fresh rosemary, garlic, olive oil and lots of bacon, butter and onions. Oh my, it’s so delicious on rice crackers.” — Greta deJong.


What we’re working on:

“When I’m not working, I have been cooking a lot and doing yoga. I’ve also been taking walks around the neighborhood and spending time outside weeding and turning my compost. Any time outside feels like a gift right now.” —Eve Rickles-Young.

“Even if you live in a small space you can still start a garden. My partner and I made our own garden box with 1/2-inch-thick plywood, 13×4-inch cedar boards, chicken wire and burlap. The box ended up being 4 feet by 13 inches and fits perfectly on our balcony. Right now, we are starting onions indoors and we will be planting potatoes soon.” —Shannon Crockett, CATALYST intern.




This article was originally published on March 25, 2020.