The COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on communities that already bear disparate burdens of environmental and climate injustice. Migrant communities and those that have been historically marginalized are especially vulnerable. Building and maintaining relationships that serve as community support is challenged by the distance mandated by the virus. In this article, research partners from neighborhood and academic communities explore ways that we have navigated related challenges. Using the organizing and research methodology of legislative theatre, our collaborative harnessed virtual space to maintain connection and further our research goals. Zoom became our virtual gathering space, which was enriched by incorporating embodied practices into our processes to deepen intimacy. We found that responsivity and consistency of connection served to support relationships in the absence of physical presence. While these practices and approaches allowed us to move our work forward while prioritizing equitable relationships, challenges remain. Accessibility is a key barrier, as both technology and internet connection are unreliable in many communities. Equity work, regardless of the form of engagement, requires time and engagement with place. Yet, we found that storytelling combined with embodied practices, responsivity, and consistency of connection, can transcend virtual space to promote healing and change.
Building Community in Virtual Space: A Community Collaborative Sustains Its Exploration of Environmental Justice and Migration Issues in the Midst of COVID-19
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Lalenja Harrington, Yayra Adjrah, Aaron Allen, Alhanna Cancel-Roman, Kelsi Dew, Jennifer Feather, Marcia Rosalie Hale, Alicia “LeeCee” Jones, Glenda Knight, Steve Kroll-Smith, Jeanell Person, Meredith Powers; Building Community in Virtual Space: A Community Collaborative Sustains Its Exploration of Environmental Justice and Migration Issues in the Midst of COVID-19. Human Organization 1 September 2022; 81 (3): 280–290. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/1938-3525-81.3.280
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