A note from Our Minnesota Community author, Colleen Waterston:
Over the past few weeks, like everyone else, I have watched the news as the coronavirus escalated from what seemed like an isolated virus on the other side of the world to what has become a life-changing situation right here at home. Amidst the increasing anxiety level across society, I have struggled to know the right response to this strange moment in time.
As unprecdented “social distancing” measures are encouraged and enforced, the fear is palpable and my heart breaks for the many people who are wondering how they will get through this time amidst the complete shutdown of their livelihoods.
Over the past days, I’ve questioned how to be a positive contributor to society as we get through this situation. This morning’s announcement by Governor Walz and Commissioner of Education Ricker to temporarily close schools made me think of an idea. Finally, I felt a tiny sense of excitement about something I could do!
Over the past few years, I have created an activity book and companion curriculum for elementary aged students to inspire children’s curiosity and conversation about culture. Designed for kids in my home state of Minnesota, the endeavor was inspired after returning from Big Shared World, a global journey where I asked people the same three questions. My second question being, “In your opinion, what is the biggest threat to humanity today?”
Many people said humanity is its own worst enemy, explaining that we have the power to build ourselves up just as much as bring ourselves down. I listened as people discussed their fears about climate change, war, poverty, and even epidemics. At the time of my project in 2014-15, Ebola was a global health crisis top of mind.
Another popular answer to my question stemmed from human characteristics such as greed, intolerance, and the tendency to worry about oneself’s well-being over a wider concern for the collective population. I saw an article about a man who drove around for days stockpiling over 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer with the intent to profit off the heightened demand. I believe this man represents the worst of humanity in times like these, and I sincerely hope the article’s attention convinces him and others to more reasonably distribute his amassed supply.
I find hope in stories about people coming together virtually, sharing in innovative ways that keeps spirits up and a sense of community thriving amidst a time when we all could use a virtual hug.
This leads to my offer.
I have boxes of my activity book at my house. In the future, I hope this book becomes a staple curriculum in elementary classrooms across Minnesota. But in the meantime, it feels more important to use the copies I have to serve the Minnesota community during this crisis moment. As parents and caretakers feel stress about how to keep children busy and engaged in the days ahead, I would be delighted to offer my activity book, free of charge, in order to help fill the days with educational content that promotes human connection and community.
Also, thanks to a stamp collection my dad helped me to grow during my own childhood, I will be able to limit my time at the post office while shipping the books with a fun mix of .29-.37 cent throwback stamps on the package!
Given my current supply, I can do this for up to 1,000 copies of my book. To maximize families reached, I will send only one book per household and would appreciate if people stick to students in grades 2-5, the target age group for the material and content. In addition to the book, there are YouTube videos to connect the content in the pages with the real Minnesotans who were interviewed and featured in the book. While we may not be interacting as much in person, these videos can introduce children to new Minnesota neighbors!
To receive a complimentary copy of Our Minnesota Community activity book, please simply fill out this form and I will send one your way as soon as I’m able.
Click here to fill out the form.
I appreciate your taking advantage of this opportunity as it allows me to contribute in a small way during this wild time to be alive. Even as we do our best to stay six feet apart and in relative isolation as much as possible, we do it because we all are in this together.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org