Staying Connected and Supporting Our Fibershed Amid Coronavirus

In times like this, our emotions and concerns can point us toward what we most value: the health and resilience of our community. Since receiving the social distancing and shelter in place directives here in Northern California, the Fibershed team has been working to shift gears and support our community from soil to soil. Wherever you are geographically and whatever your role may be in this community, we care about your wellbeing. We’re offering this first in a series of articles gathering resources, ideas, and opportunities to support one another.

Right now, your dollars are a lifeline for many small businesses and workers. Who can you help stay afloat during this time? We want to share direct opportunities for those who are able to make purchases for essential needs as well as enjoyment, and we also are including resources for those already experiencing economic insecurity.

We all eat

Ensuring health and food access to our whole community is paramount. The vital role of local farms in providing for our needs is being highlighted now, as well as the need to support both farms and the infrastructure that helps bring their products to all of us. Fibershed is proud to be a member of the California Food & Farming Network, whose members have been organizing to provide critical resources and reference materials to the agricultural community:

Ways to support your health and local farms: 

  • Urge Congress to Provide Aid: the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is encouraging all of us to call or write to our representatives to make sure that aid is available for vulnerable farmers, ranchers, and food and farm businesses: find a sample message and talking points here.
  • Shop at farmer’s markets: many are still open at this time during shelter in place in California, and keeping our agricultural businesses alive at this time is vital to our long-term community resilience. Check the website of your local farmer’s market organization to confirm: Kitchen Table Advisors has compiled a comprehensive list that links to organizations throughout California.
  • Join a CSA: a community-supported agriculture share brings fresh food directly to your doorstep or neighborhood while uplifting the farm for the season ahead. The Kitchen Table Advisors list above is a great place to start, and LocalHarvest also offers a directory.

Producers are the foundation of a fibershed

Food and fiber systems are intertwined on our working landscapes. Fiber, clothing, and textiles are a basic human need. Our second skin keeps us warm, provides comfort, and is connected to many facets of our economy. Our Northern California Producer network is the foundation of our Fibershed. Without farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, mills, designers, sewists, knitters, and all those who are part of the value chain, we cannot meet our basic need for clothing.

Ways to support local fiber and dye systems: 

This week we gathered resources to bolster producer businesses and offer creative pathways through this changing landscape. If you’re a member of our Producer network, be sure to check your email for our updated information. 

We’re all connected

We are heartened by the expedient and compassionate response of local, state, and regional government agencies, as well as the countless nonprofit service organizations who provide crucial support to our communities, especially in times of crisis. There are a number of emerging and existing programs to support vulnerable populations and workers facing loss of hours.

The California Association of Nonprofits has done an amazing job of rounding up resources related to relief funds for businesses, advocacy groups, and emergency funding for artists. If you have the capacity to offer direct support in your community, the California Volunteers website offers many opportunities to contribute. 

Ways to support your wellbeing:

  • Connect to place: If you have access to the outdoors, ground in your surroundings. With the changing of the seasons, there is so much life abundant in our fibershed.
  • Dig into the soil: deepen your relationship with your garden, or if you don’t have direct access, consider online learning to enhance your understanding
  • Stitch mindfully: whether mending, knitting, sewing, or another form of fiber and dye creativity — now is an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves as makers.

We’re gathering together specific links and ideas to activities and resources in our community. If you’re interested in learning more about a specific topic, practice, or component of Fibershed’s work, please let us know in the comments below. 

In an upcoming post, we’ll also offer reflections on how disturbance of this scale may just open the space and allow for the seeds of a system that supports us all in meeting our fiber and dye needs, from soil to soil.