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Point of View: Rebuilding a Community After Pandemic

Green sprouts - deposit photos

Four years ago, we had a good thing going her in SacTown.

Our local LGBTQ+ writer’s group – the Queer Sacramento Authors’ Collective – was almost fifty folks strong. We were doing readings at the Lavender Library four times a year, meeting in person for lunch every other month, and had an ambitious plan to put on Sacramento’s first book festival.

And then Covid struck, and obliterated it all in an instant.

The festival was cancelled. The readings were too, though we managed to continue them sporadically on Facebook Live, in videos that few watched. And we managed occasional zoom “lunches” – a pale substitute for the real thing.

We lost members, thankfully not to the disease itself, as a number of them moved away or lost interest.

And while the pandemic isn’t over, it seems to have receded for now, and is slowly becoming something we must learn how to live with, hopefully in the same manner that we’ve become accustomed to the common cold or the flu.

And so, ever so slowly, we’re beginning the process of resuscitating QSAC – figuring out what to keep from the old group, what to dump, and what new goals we might strive for.

It started last summer with a couple Pride events that we attended, where we sold a decent number of books. Then things got worse again over the winter holidays, and Mark and I came down with covid in the middle of December.

When the new year began, fresh from testing negative, we were determined to push ahead once again.

And so we held a reading at the Lavender Library in March, our first in almost three-and-a-half years. We signed up for three local pride events, and held our first in-person lunches since before the pandemic began.

At the most recent this last weekend, eight people showed up. That’s about half of what we used to get, on average – but half of those were new. And they brought with them fresh perspectives and ideas. It ended up being a wonderful meeting.

The world we live in is a changed place, full of uncertainty.

In five years, will writers even be needed? Or will AI spin out customized tales for us that are every bit as good (or better) than what we come up with, using our limited human brains?

How fast will the weather change? Who will be in the White House on January 20th, 2025? And will covid be a distant memory? Or with us in a new, more virulent form?

I have no control over any of these things. What I can control is where I put my energy, channeling it into positive things like regrowing our local writer community and creating a space for mutual support and hope.

So I close my eyes and take a deep breath, seeing what is and imaging what could be. Those tender green shoots are poking through the snow, bringing a promise of better things to come.

And then I open them and get to work. With light and love and a little luck, maybe this year we’ll recreate our own thriving garden.

Are you part of a local writers’ group? What do you do to keep it alive?

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