So much can change in a few days when you live in interesting times.
A week ago, 260 of us got together for the annual celebration that our Annual General Meeting has become. Members, donors, volunteers and some who were just curious helped us break attendance records for the third year in a row.
A week later, the world has shifted onto a different footing.
The Couchiching Conservancy has responded quickly, and I want to share our approach with you and perhaps answer some questions as to how the next few weeks of our work will unfold.
Following the advice of our health care professionals and political leaders, we have closed the office at Grant’s Woods and asked staff and volunteers to work from home. Because our people are our single biggest asset, and because many of our volunteers and supporters tend to be in the demographic most at risk from Covid-19, we want to apply an abundance of caution in keeping everyone safe. We have the technology that allows everyone to work remotely, so we are using it. We will continue to respond to email as normal and our phone lines will be monitored for messages, so there should be little or no disruption in communications.
To allow us to continue training volunteers, particularly for our crucial Citizen Science work, we have purchased the teleconferencing platform Zoom to shift to webinar formats where appropriate for workshops. We will provide instructions in using the platform, which is very user-friendly.
At this stage, health officials are saying small groups and individual contacts can still proceed, and since much of our work will soon be taking place outside, we will carry on with stewardship work and landowner contact as usual. However, we will be practicing social distancing and we won’t be shaking hands – a tough habit to break in our community. There is one important caveat: if anyone in our community does not feel comfortable getting together or executing a public task, we will respect that without question.
We will continue to monitor the situation and if more drastic measures are required, we will take them.
In the meantime, please take care of yourself. We need each other, and Nature needs us. As one of our supporters is fond of saying, sustainability begins at home.