Together While Apart: Webinar Video, Q&A And Resources

By Tim Hollo March 20, 2020

Staying Together While Keeping Apart

How on sweet Earth do we practice and cultivate ecological ethics, connected diversity, community building and social cohesion, when we can’t come together face to face?

It was incredible to have 100 people cram into a virtual room together to discuss this – and demonstrate one way to do it – for an inspiring and powerful 90 minute conversation last night.

Visual artist Will Bessen, who is currently in quarantine after returning from overseas, captured the spirit of the webinar in this incredible drawing, pictured above.

For me, the idea of physical distancing came as a tremendous shock, personally, for my community work, and for my work with the Green Institute. It’s forced me to rethink a lot of my plans, which for some time have been focussed on getting people offline, into rooms together face to face, to nut things out together.

But, if anything, it has reinforced my philosophy, that everything is connected. And, in a horrible way, living in the teeth of a pandemic gives us the opportunity to have conversations about connection and interconnection in new and challenging ways.

We can talk about how pandemics show that all our lives are inextricably intertwined, for now and forever, whether we like it or not. We can discuss how we’re seeing the impossibility of trying to keep economics, health, environment, education, social justice, siloed, treated as separate questions with separate answers. We can raise how vital it is, for social beings, to stay connected as well as we possibly can, while keeping apart – for our own mental health, for the sake of the more vulnerable people around us, and to not allow this pandemic and the response to it break social cohesion further. We can talk about how capitalism has constructed an efficient world so incredibly fragile that a series of shocks in a row can bring it to the edge of collapse.

We can, awful as this situation is, use the time of crisis to look after each other now and to build networks of resilience for the future. Whether it’s mutual aid creating new community connections, online meetings and gigs enabling a reduction in unnecessary travel and increasing access, balcony singing bringing music to people’s lives, or even the introduction of an emergency Universal Basic Income expanding dramatically the realm of policies which are “possible”.

These are just some of the ideas which came up in the conversation, which you can watch below. You can also download the chat group text which included some wonderfully inspiring quotes. Note, if you’re on your mobile device and the video doesn’t fit the screen, just turn your phone sideways or horizontal.

Further resources


Holly Hammond: Plan To Win; Commons Library; Coronavirus and Cmmunity Care resources

Tim Lo Surdo: Democracy in Colour

El Gibbs: People With Disability Australia; PWD COVID-19 plan

Nicola Paris: CounterAct; 10 Steps for Building Community During Corona

Millie Rooney: Australia ReMADE

Meg Clark: Lyneham Commons; Shareable Hackett

Natalie Osborne: Twitter

Tim Hollo: resources for mutual aid in O’Connor, ACT

Other resources

How to include ‘close captioning’ on Zoom

How to set up a virtual background on Zoom

Facilitating online meetings

Handy Zoom resources from GetUp

Centre for Australian Progress compiled resources

List of informal Australian COVID-19 mutual aid groups

Indigenising and Decolonising Community Care

Coronavirus and Community Care by Holly Hammond

Holly’s Hammond’s webinar speech in writing with resource links

Commons Library COVID-19 resource list

Spreadsheet on what progressive organisations are doing, cross movement, in response to COVID-19

I Lost My Gig, a website where live performing artists can register their income loss, to support arts industry advocacy

Coronavirus — finding a way through the mess by Nicola Paris

Democracy in Colour, a national racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour.

Practicing Critical Care through COVID-19 and beyond

Naomi Klein and Jeremy Swahili discuss Coronavirus, the US election, and solidarity in the midst of a pandemic

People With Disability Australia, a national disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation that is made up of, led and governed by people with disability.

Coronavirus: New Bulk-Billed Health Services for At Risk Australians

Young Women’s Arthritis Support Group

COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK, an example of international community organising

COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid groups, an example of the kinds of mutual aid groups that are possible.

Thread on Twitter on disability rights and mutual aid during COVID-19

Next Door, a platform to connect with neighbours and local organisations

COVID-19 Queer Mutual Aid Group in Melbourne

Australia ReMade, an independent, vision-based collaboration of community leaders and individuals

Intertwine, a network of progressive organisations working together to eliminate sexism, racism, homophobia and ableism.

A collection of community language translations around COVID-19


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