Rachel Werner talks about her experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in Madison. Rachel talks about working remotely as a content marketing specialist for Taliesin in Spring Green as well as a writing instructor for Hugo House in Washington State. She talks about the impact of the social distancing measures on her daughter Phoebe's education and extracurricular activities, including Phoebe's involvement with Children's Theater of Madison. Rachel talks about the impact of this time period on creatives and artists in Madison. This interview was recorded using a mobile phone recording app, and it may affect the audio quality in places.
Narrator Name: Rachel Werner
Interviewer Name: Laura Damon-Moore
Date of interview: 5/26/2020
[00:00:00] Start of interview
[00:01:22] What have the ten weeks since Safer at Home looked like for you and your household
[00:04:40] What have your conversations with your daughter regarding the public health crisis been like
[00:08:17] What does your professional work look like right now
[00:11:14] What preparations did you take before and at the beginning of Safer at Home
[00:15:18] Are there moments or images that stand out to you from the beginning of social distancing
[00:16:47] What is the creative landscape in Madison like right now; what are small businesses/entrepreneurs dealing with
[00:19:17] How has teaching online shifted because of the social distancing measures and with the pandemic in general
[00:22:16] What was the experiencing of adopting/fostering a dog like
[00:25:01] Do you think you will continue to foster in the future
[00:25:59] What are you worried about right now
[00:29:08] Are there any other good things or opportunities that you see at this time
[00:30:34] Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet that you want to add at this point
[START OF RECORDING]
Interviewer: Today is Tuesday, May 26, 2020. My name is Laura Damon-Moore. I’m speaking today with a narrator for the Stories from a Distance story gathering project for Madison Public Library. We are connecting via cell phone call at the moment. We’ll have our narrator introduce themselves, and then share their connection to Madison.
Rachel Werner: Hi, I’m Rachel Werner, and I’m currently the content marketing specialist for Taliesin Preservation based in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I’ve been a Madison resident for eleven, twelve years now, off and on. I first moved here in 2004 and lived here for about five years, and then I was away for a few years living abroad, and then came back in 2011, and been residing in Madison ever since--actually right downtown, just a few blocks away from Madison Public Library. I teach classes as well, for writers and other artists, through the Madison Public Library system, Arts + Literature Laboratory, at UW Writers’ Institute, once or twice, sometimes in the last couple years. And then, also, I’m lucky enough to be on the board of directors for a couple of Madison-based nonprofits: Madison Reading Project and Childrens’ Theater of Madison.
Interviewer: Thank you so much, Rachel. So, it has been ten weeks since the Safer at Home social distancing measures went into place in Wisconsin and Madison. Rachel, can you tell us, generally, what those weeks have looked like for you and for your household?
Rachel Werner: So, my household is me and my daughter Phoebe, who is currently nine. We’ve been pretty busy during COVID and the quarantine so far, in regards to--I’m blessed that a lot of my professional life is already housed online. Doing content marketing is, obviously, a lot of the digital marketing, so social media-based and website development. So, I was actually able to pivot. I was already working remotely from home actually, because I have to travel sometimes when I’m teaching as well, two to three times a week. So the full shift to working at home remotely was a bit more smooth for me than, I think, it was for some other people. And then my classes that I teach, several of them are for entities that are based on the West Coast. So Hugo House, which is a writers’ hub in Seattle, Washington, and San Diego Writers, Ink. So, again, having already been in the flow of teaching online now, for about nine months, it was, kind of just like, I’m already doing this and I’m already set up, so now I was just home more, with less running around, distractions.
My daughter’s pretty active in the children’s theater scene here, and so she was able to--one of the things that was a little bit of a disappointment was that they were supposed to perform Peter Pan.So actually Overture, our main theater here, shut down just the day before they were supposed to have their opening weekend, but they allowed them to actually do one performance for a very limited audience. So, that ended up being really special. And just recently they made the announcement that they’re actually just going to shift the play into next spring, in 2021, with the hopes of retaining most of the original cast. So that actually was a pretty exciting announcement for my daughter. So, yeah, now they’re doing acting things online. She participated in Young Playwrights Festival online, and done some little mini-commercials that will kind of help later on this year, to talk about and hype up what the next season for the theater will be here, for Children’s Theater of Madison. Although, fingers crossed, (laughs) we will totally be out of quarantine by then and plans can roll on as expected for the 2021 season, for not just theaters, sports--for everybody. I think those are the things, some of those extracurriculars, are things that are most missed.
She’s also started taking yoga classes online through little om BIG OM; they’re live, for children, that are being offered now a couple days a week. They’re donation-based, which has been really lovely. And she really has enjoyed--she’d done yoga a number of years ago, a little bit, off and on, but again, our lives are pretty busy, so we haven’t consistently been able to get her to a yoga class.So, I think, having that time to not only move in that way, her body, but also just, she really digs the mindfulness and the breathing exercises and the (unintelligible), so those exercises have really been useful to her during this time, too. And we’re staying busy reading, even without the library, (laughs) supporting local bookstores. We both actually have gotten Kindles in the past six months too, so that’s been great--like ebooks, audiobooks. We already had a book problem at our house, so now I would say it’s just grown. (laughs)
Interviewer: Thank you, Rachel. That’s a great snapshot. (both laugh) Just thinking about, especially Phoebe and you, right now, can you tell us a little bit about what your conversations with Phoebe have been like regarding this public health crises, and the social distancing measures that have been put into place?
Rachel Werner: Sure, yeah. I, with Phoebe, it’s always, it’s really been kind of delivering information on a need to know basis, and the reality is it’s just a lot of information that, you know, I’m not getting. The school closures are a good example. You know, obviously, originally they were out for a couple weeks, and then it’s kind of pushing out until May, and then it’s like, All right, actually school is out for the year. So, you know, I feel like I probably told her things relatively soon after they got on my radar, but maybe not always immediately, just because, you know, I’m trying to respect the fact that she is a child, and there’s only so much. I mean, it’s hard enough for us as adults to kind of process each next step, or the next wave of whatever’s happening. So I’ve kind of been very conscientious about that. I mean, luckily we essentially live in a pretty tech free household anyway; we don’t have a TV set, we don’t really watch TV. Obviously, I have my computer, you know, for work and school and stuff for her, and then my phone, again, you know, for work, for social media and stuff. But, actually, other than the Kindles--like hers is literally just an ebook reader, like, she can’t go on the internet. It’s not a tablet or anything. So, you know, being able to limit--and we don’t really listen to the radio, we haven’t really been listening to the radio at all. Just trying to limit her exposure to hearing--you know, as an adult, every time I sit at the computer it’s, like, the update on how many people have died, every day, around the world. So that kind of stuff, or locally, or whatever it is. So, just trying to limit her exposure to that. I mean, I don’t think that kids need to hear about that kind of stuff day in and day out.
The other part of it--but also being honest about the fact that life is the way it is right now is because it needed to be, you know, and pointing the fact that we're really grateful, at least so far that we’re both healthy. Nobody that we’re close to, whether here in town or, you know, relatives that live in other states are sick at this moment. And so, just trying to have that sense of gratitude that we’re safe, we’re blessed.We have enough food to eat, we’ve had heat when it was warmer, you know, we might have to turn on the air conditioning here soon (laughs) now that it's suddenly getting hot and humid in Madison. But we have kind of all the modern comforts. We’re not in need right now. And so, even though this may be inconvenient in certain ways, you know, we’re not hurting. I read a quote in the first week or two of the quarantine starting here in Madison, and it said, “Despair is a privilege of the bourgeoisie.” And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. It’s like, you think about the idea that, yes there’s lots of things, I’m not trying to downplay the fact that there are a lot of people who are hurting or suffering here, you know, because they have been unemployed now for months, or that their businesses are totally shut and they don’t know if they’re ever going to be able to reopen them, or, God forbid, if they’ve gotten sick or someone in their family has, or close friends and stuff. But could you imagine living in someplace like India, or another developing country, where they’re dealing with the pandemic, but they don’t even have, you know, some of these infrastructures. Some of these cities and little villages don’t even have modern sanitation that we’re so used to. You know what I mean? We’re worried about there being enough beds in hospitals, and there are people who live hundreds of miles away from the closest hospital. So, just trying to kind of keep making her aware of that as much as I possibly can too, that yeah, there’s things about this that are inconvenient, but we’re pretty blessed. (laughs) We’re sitting plenty pretty compared some of the other people in the world. You know?
Interviewer: Yeah, thank you. Going back to what work looks like for you right now, can you give us a rundown of what your professional work looks like at the moment?
Rachel Werner: Yeah, like I said, from Taliesin, you know, with being an art space nonprofit, I mean, that essentially runs on a seasonal calendar year, we were already in our off-season when all this began, so in certain ways it was a little bit easier, I think, for the organization to pivot because it really just became, Okay, we have to keep--so they just kind of kept pushing out the dates of when it would be reopening for tours and events and et cetera this year. I mean, obviously that’s still unfolding as far as exactly what that’s going to look like, specifically in regards to, obviously we’ll have to greatly reduce the number of people who are allowed on tours, probably limit the number of tours that are running a day. There are certain events that probably just won’t happen this year, and I know they’re trying to figure out whether or not they’ll still run any youth or adult programming, and there’s also, like, photography workshops, or calligraphy workshops, architectural workshops for kids during the summer, if those things will still take place in person, or will they shift online? So most of those conversations are still happening. So I ended up being furloughed for a couple weeks, but I was lucky enough to be able to take PTO before that.
So I feel lucky that I have diverse revenue streams. Since, because I also teach, I’m a fitness instructor as well, so obviously most of the gyms have been closed, so that, kind of, you know, that income has kind of went away, for a bit, (laughs) so it’s off the radar for a while. But I’ve, like I said, teaching online, the fact that I was already teaching writing and marketing classes for writers and artists online, that’s actually been very lovely that this kind of just rolls on because this was already set up, and these are things I was already scheduled to do for this spring and summer. So and, yeah, just kind of plugging along as is, and it’s been interesting to interact with my students, who are in different states, most of them on the West Coast. And they were already living, you know, experiencing a lot of things in quarantine weeks before they started here. So it was interesting to kind of be having these conversations and listening and kind of, you know, helping people cope with the fact that their lives were changing so drastically. And then, you know, two weeks later, or three weeks later that was kind of what it started to become here, and I was like, Ah, yes, I’ve been hearing about this (laughs) pretty in depth and in detail for a while now. So, it was definitely very interesting in that way. You know, I feel, I guess it was kind of a gift to be able to help mentally and emotionally support some people through that. And then, also, it kind of gave me a little bit more insight, you know what I mean, as far as what this was going to look like. It didn’t play out exactly in all the same ways here as it did there, but I had a sense of like, all right, this is what this means and, you know, it’s kind of like, yeah there’s no toilet paper. (laughs) So, good thing you, you know what I mean, bought a twelve pack or whatever. (laughs)
Interviewer: For sure. That was a question I was going to ask actually. Since you kind of had, you know, sort of a precursor to what was coming, or a version of what might be coming, were there any preparations, or precautions that you took, kind of at the beginning of, as we were getting more information here in Madison, or at the beginning of the Safer at Home order? Could you tell us what that looked like?
Rachel Werner: So, I would say the two biggest ways that were kind of prep for me were the, you know, I pretty early on sat down and figured out worst case scenarios. Like, okay, let’s say, all income fell away, except for me teaching online essentially, as that was the only thing that was really ensured, that was guaranteed at that point, I would say, within the first couple weeks. Other than that, it’s like, what’s the longest I can kind of pay the, you know assuming no other kind of thing, you know, rents and mortgages, and all those things will have to be paid, and electricity bills. It’s like, what’s the longest I can get by on what’s in the bank now, and have bare minimum funds coming in for the next couple months. I figured it out, but just because that was probably the biggest thing that a lot of my students were dealing with. And Seattle kind of giving that preview was just this idea that like, okay, it’s even things that people never would have expected, like shutting down or being furloughed or laid off, and kind of just realizing that no one really knows how long this is going to play out, or necessarily how long this is going to go on for. And so, by the time the quarantine really got started here, you know, it was like a week or two in, they had almost been like a month in at that point, you know? And I think that was kind of the time when people started having conversations about like, rent-free this, you know. And just kind of--those things just don’t seem realistic to me, so I was just like “That’s probably not going to happen.” (laughs) So I need to figure out how long I can pay my bills. (laughs) You know. So that was probably the preemptive thing I did. Just to kind of, so I would have a real sense of, okay like, how long can this go on for and it just kind of gave me more of a peace of mind too. Knowing,okay, worst case scenario, I can probably get by until July if I have to. I think the other thing that was proactive for me with doing that too, was that you realize as you see the news reports and stuff coming in too, there’s so many people on unemployment, so even filing that, it’s not like it’s going to be immediate. You may not see that money for three months, six months, whatever it’s going to be, you know what I mean, because they’re processing so many--you know what I mean? So this idea I need to figure out, again, doing nothing else, like no other paycheck is coming in except for just teaching online. What does that look like? I think that’s the first thing from a preparatory standpoint.
And then, the second thing was, what has also been, but it also still factors into that budget, it’s also realizing because of how many local businesses are being impacted, I also wanted to be able to find a way to keep supporting other local businesses and entrepreneurs as much as I could. I did a lot of that the first few weeks, I mean, I still am doing that, you know, as needed, but, I mean, I’d definitely say that those first two to three weeks, just because people were being hit so hard, and it was just so shocking. So whether that was jumping on and doing an Instagram live with someone, if it was, you know, just having one-on-one phone calls, you know. Just kind of offering our support, you know, getting take-out. You know, obviously, it’s like with anything, it’s like, I want to give money to everybody, I obviously can’t do that, because I got to be able to pay rent in three months. (laughs) But I really was committed to, and I think we still are, as much as possible, as much as I can to, whether it be in an organization, and whether it be, you know, like I said, an individual entrepreneur, brands, whatever it is, it’s local. So I’ve been doing, up until, I literally just went to Trader Joe’s for the first time since March, since all this started, since right before, probably, sometime in early March, for the first time this past week. So, I mean, literally, I’ve done all my grocery shopping for the last two and a half months has been done at the Willy Street Co-op. Because I’m supporting a local business. I can ship. I know a lot of the stuff in the store is purchased directly from local vendors and retailers and farmers and stuff. So, literally, that’s how committed I’ve been to it.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for that answer. So, thinking back to, you know, while we’re at the, sort of, start of social distancing in our thoughts here, thinking back to the start of the social distancing measures ten weeks ago, are there particular moments or images that stand out to you from that time period that you, that have, sort of been burnt, you know, that you’re carrying around with you a little bit?
Rachel Werner: No. (laughs) I don’t. You know the only, I think the streets, you know, probably, and this is not just from the beginning of COVID, I would say that that’s still true now. Since I literally live right downtown in Madison--I mean our loft is just a couple blocks, you know, four, five blocks down from the Capitol Square--the one thing that is still, not jarring, but we’ve obviously gotten more used to it, but like, you usually, living downtown, especially this time of year, now that it’s starting to get warm and stuff out, or even towards the end of the school year, you know, like graduation week and weekend typically would have been insane, there’d be people everywhere. You know what I mean? And the farmer’s market would be going on and there’s just, you know, parking, obviously, but there’s, it’s weird to like, I mean that part I would say has been probably the biggest, something that was weird or off from a visual standpoint. But, you know, it’s pretty quiet down here now, most days, and the streets are pretty empty, and obviously, seeing so many businesses shuttered. That’s probably the thing that’s been the most awkward from a visual standpoint.
Interviewer: Got you. Thank you. And, Rachel, you mentioned that you are, you know, fairly tapped into, especially the creative landscape in Madison, small businesses, entrepreneurs and things like that. Can you give us a snapshot of what the creative landscape is like right now? What are people dealing with? What are you seeing from your perspective?
Rachel Werner: I think, you know, I’ve been seeing a lot more call to kind of like, I think, action as far as people feeling like, okay, we need to support these people, whatever that looks like. I’ve seen a lot more people kind of reaching out be, like, Hey, you know, not only just to kind of make it, get it more on people’s radars. I mean Jenie Gao in particular, is one particular local artist that I know, that it seemed like for a while, almost weekly, she was having some conversation with some local media source about the idea that like, you know, if you want local art and local artists to be here beyond all this, we need your support. It’s been really affirming to see Dane Arts and the Madison City Arts Commission stand, kind of come forward, and come up with these creative ways to provide emergency grant funding to artists too, over the last few weeks, month or so. And, I think, spreading the word. I know I’ve had conversations with people, like, Hey, I saw this grant on Twitter, you know. People just kind of making an active effort to kind of be like, you know, I’m here for you, I’ve got you. I just ordered a hanging plant hanger from one of the local makers this weekend too, where it’s just like, you know, it’s kind of like, if you’ve been waiting on something, waiting to do something, or purchase something, like a print, you know.
Emily Balsley, is another local artist, she’s been, she kind of was doing, you know having a child herself, and knowing parents are at home. She kind of just made these coloring worksheets, that was probably five, six weeks ago now. It was in April, and she just put them up on her website for free, for parents to download. Some of them were drawing instructions; Phoebe did a few of them. Some were just straight up coloring sheets. But I think it’s just been really heartwarming to see the community. I see a lot of artists and organizations that are in place that support artists really coming together and kind of actualizing the community to be like, We got you. You know, but it’s reciprocal. It’s not that people are just asking for support, they’re also offering ways too, to kind of provide, like Emily did, they’re finding ways to give things to the community too, to the city. So I think that’s really beautiful.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for that. So, thinking about, I’d like to return to your online teaching work for a moment. You teach for Hugo House, mostly with students on the west coast.
Rachel Werner: Yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about what the experience of--so you had been teaching online, anyway, but how that role, or how that--the feel of those classes, if that has shifted due to the social distancing measures that are in place, you know, in places all over the country, and just with the pandemic in general.
Rachel Werner: I think that people, I would be interested to see how many people, I’m betting now that people realize that how acceptable online learning can be. I mean, I’m in a weird, you know, I would say not weird position, but interesting. I’ve taken online classes a lot, kind of in my later college years, you know, whereas I feel like, you know, for current college students that’s not necessarily super unusual, but I do think there’s a lot of people that still--I’ve heard many people say, “This is my first online class. I’ve never taken an online class before,” and whether it’s one of my classes, whether it’s a webinar, you know, whatever it is.
I know just from teaching social media workshops for the last couple years, there’s a lot of fear around technology for people sometimes. They're just not comfortable with apps or software, you know, or they just haven't spent that much time using their phone or their computer in a certain way; that can be really intimidating. But COVID has kind of just, even from a homeschooling perspective for parents, has really forced people to kind of like--you know, one of my coworkers said, like literally, every single week I’m learning a new skill. And I think that’s true for a lot of people in a lot of ways. And, whereas, they kind of have to push back some of that fear and get past the fear and hesitation, you know, just to be like, this is my only way to, you know, like, do this thing that I want to do. Whether it’s take this class, whether it’s participate where I’m being required to be in this webinar for my job, you know, or I have to figure out how to use Zoom, or set up my webcam because this is now how we’re going to be running meetings, you know, our weekly staff meetings, whatever it is. And so I think that’s a big positive, because I think, you know, most people are pretty smart, and a lot of times people are smarter than what they give themselves credit for. And I would never wish there would be a pandemic to motivate more people to kind of figure these things out, but I think that now that people know that this is in their wheelhouse and these things are possible, I think it opens up a lot more possibilities for people. And people have been able to take classes from all over the world, right? Just because, let’s say, a particular place isn’t offering, you know, let’s say, a culinary--just because there’s not necessarily an online culinary writing course here in Madison, doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for one that’s taking place somewhere else. So, I think that kind of global connectivity has really become super tangible. You know?
Interviewer: Great. Thank you so much for that perspective. So, when we were communicating a little bit before this interview, you mentioned that you and Phoebe have adopted a rescue dog, and I’m wondering what the experience of adopting a rescue dog was like during this time period.
Rachel Werner: So, yeah, so, we actually didn’t adopt the dog; we fostered twice. So we’re fosters. We actually became active fosters during quarantine through Underdog Pet Rescue of Wisconsin. So, because our lives outside of quarantine are pretty busy, and we are not usually home, but Phoebe has been asking for a pet for the last couple years, and it’s like, you know, Uh. I was like--but once we were home for about a month and it’s like, things are going to be changing for a bit, I was just like, Well, let’s look into fostering. That’s one of those things, again, from being so plugged in online, you know? I had seen lots of posts and, you know, whether it be here in Madison, or in other locations, the need for more fosters right now because a lot of the shelters have had to close, or are operating at minimum capacity because of the fact that, again, it’s like that whole social distancing, right? To care for an animal, caring for animals en masse, twenty-four hours a day, or even twelve or thirteen hours of a day, would involve people needing to work in pretty close contact with each other. So, if animals are healthy, and they don’t need pretty intensive medical care, they just can’t have that many animals in shelters at the moment. And so there’s just become this need for more fosters. Obviously and adoptions do help that.
We became fosters and, because of COVID, they had shifted the whole training process online, so going through that online, and then getting approved, and then yeah. So, we’ve had two foster dogs now, and they both were lovely. Like they say people tend to live longer who have pets or care for pets, and I think there’s probably a lot of truth to that. You know, it’s hard to feel sad when you’ve got a puppy to cuddle, (laughs) like ten times, ten times a day. So it’s been a really positive experience. The other thing that’s been cool to be in that experience, and then also transition the pet into their permanent home too, as well. So then, knowing too, you have to care for this animal, but then also be the one to actually deliver them, you know, or pass them off to their permanent home, too, their--what they call them, their quote, unquote forever families. And that’s really heartwarming too, to just be able to see, you know. The last one, the second one we had, Rocker, to be able to be like, okay, here’s these two parents and they’ve got these two kids, one of their daughters, she was about the same age as Phoebe, and the other one looked about tween age, but they were just so excited, so excited to be getting this puppy, and taking it home. So that’s just so heartwarming. You know what I mean? It’s just like, yeah, life goes on, and these are just these snapshots of normalcy that are still happening. So, yeah, it’s been a really cool, amazing experience.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for that. Do you anticipate that you will be able to continue that, maybe on or off, sometime in the future?
Rachel Werner: I think so. Yeah. No, I think so. I think that we are definitely--it’s been so--our experiences with the first two have been so positive that I think--I have every intention of us staying active fosters. I mean, the nice thing is, is just like, unless it’s like an emergency and it’s like, Hey, we really need you to take this animal right at this minute, you know, you kind of can say yes I can take this, you kind of commit when it works for you. So, I think for sure we’ll probably end up fostering, at least once or twice more, sometime this summer, and then I think, whenever--like I’ve told Phoebe, whenever it works for us, when we’re back into--whatever, I mean, who the heck knows what the new normal looks like, so I don’t know if our schedule will even be at that same pace. But, I think, yeah, we will remain active fosters for a while. At least until we finally do adopt one of our own to keep. (laughs)
Interviewer: Thank you so much. Let’s see. Rachel, what are you worried about right now?
Rachel Werner: What am I worried about? I think the thing I’m most worried about is just, how many businesses are going to be able to come back from this? You know, it’s hard because I feel like I can see both sides, or--I’m sure there’s more than just two sides, like with anything. I feel like there’s been at least, like, in the media, or in the biggest, kind of, struggle, between what, when does quarantine end, how to kind of reintegrate into, quote unquote, normal life, post COVID. You know, you never, you can’t place a value on human life, even one person. You know what I mean? If you can save one person, then everybody should be invested in doing whatever possible to keep people alive. You know? That being said, you know, there’s that realistic economic side of the impact where, you know, my heart goes out to them, I mean, I’m one of the people, like for the gyms that I work for, you know, I have other occupations, I have other income coming in. But, you know, seven, eight years ago, I would have been in the position of some of my other coworkers, where it’s like, I did work in the fitness industry full time, that was my main job, that was my job, like my income was coming from me teaching and training. And so, you know, I’ve been on a work call, as far as just, in regards to one of the gyms I work at reopening. And there was some shaming happened, and I was really struggling with that, you know, because it’s like one person in particular who--again, working in the fitness industry is not their primary occupation, they have another job that--she was, really just kind of kept coming back around and around again with a lot of really negative comments about the fact that, in her opinion, the gym is probably reopening too soon and all the risks involved to the members and to the people teaching. It’s like, here’s the thing, you don’t need to go back to teaching right now, because you can pay your bills. (laughs) You know what I mean? But I can tell you right--you know what I mean, but like, I don’t feel comfortable telling anybody that they shouldn’t be operating their business. I mean, again, if the public health department is legally, if the powers that be are telling people they can reopen, you know, and they’re willing to follow whatever parameters that have been set, I think you got to let people do that, because part of your survival too, is being able to feed and clothe yourself. You know what I mean? And if you’ve got kids, and being able to pay--I mean, not everybody has health insurance and might be paying for health insurance out of pocket. It’s like, I don’t know what their economic situation is, and so I think that there’s that, there’s that reality to that as well. So, I guess my biggest fear is just like, how many people are just really in dire straits because of all this, economically? And I don’t know what that looks like. I’m not an economist, I don’t know if there should be more stimulus checks. I don’t know if, you know, there needs to be some sort of more government thing. Or if there are--you know, yeah, I don’t know what the answers to all those are, but I do think if I have to say one thing I’m worried about, I am worried about what does that look like for individual people and business owners. You know, just depending on, because I do think there’s been a lot of fear still. I don’t think everybody’s going to be like, yeah, I’m going to eat at a restaurant tomorrow, or go to that. You know what I mean? (laughs) Yeah. So, I guess, those are my fears.
Interviewer: Yeah. You’ve touched on a couple of these things, but are there any other good things, or opportunities that you see at this time?
Rachel Werner: I think the good thing is that I think people really are, I’m hoping, I think it’s a lot of truth that we’re more invested. I mean, I think we’re already blessed to live in a city that is very community oriented and very action focused. But I think people are maybe just more poised to be kind and accepting. You know, at least I’m hoping that’s true. You know, we’ve all kind of come through this, we’re starting to see a little bit of quote, unquote the other side. And so, I just hope that as we all, kind of start to, are allowed to reintegrate, and be around, and socialize with each other more in public, that this kind of overwhelming, you know, just gentleness and kindness, just kind of this acceptance, and this kind of just you know, tol--where it goes beyond tolerance, but it’s just like, I’m just glad that you’re here. And I’m glad those of us who are still here are here, and that there’s support that we can provide to people who have lost loved ones. You know what I mean? I hope that there’s some sort of like, you know, I don’t know if there’s a memorial at some point, I mean, I just, I feel like there’s been a little, a lot of loss that those of us who haven’t personally experienced, that has still happened. And so I hope that there’s some way for that to be acknowledged too. You know, I guess I--but I’m hopeful more for that sense of, okay, what can we do as a community to, to come back stronger and better?
Interviewer: Thank you. Rachel, is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet that you want to add at this point?
Rachel Werner: No, I think we did it. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reflect. (laughs) To reflect myself, and just kind of like, oh yeah, what has it been like, you know? Yeah, I guess, and thank you. I guess one thing I would want to say is thank you. Thank you to every single person who has put themselves on the line in some way, shape, or form because they were in an essential job while this was going on. Everything from my car mechanic to, obviously, the nurses, doctors, you know, CNAs, the grocery store workers, like every person, you know, whether you’re at the co-op or Hy-Vee or Woodman’s. (laughs) You know, delivery drivers, everybody who has just, who has been out there every day, day in. I mean, we went to mail something, pick up something at UPS a couple weeks ago and he told me, he’s like, This isn’t weird for me because my life has been pretty much the same the whole time. He said their hours didn’t change one bit. You know what I mean? I thought that was, I was shocked. I was like, What? You know what I mean? So, the postal workers, FedEx, everybody. Like, thank you. Thank you for, you know, hanging in there. Thank you for bringing us our, you know, packages of, like, stuff that we probably didn’t need. (laughs) But we wanted because we were home. So, thank you. I do want to say there’s no way any of us could probably thank you enough, but, if, if governments still give out medals, all these people should get, like, twenty. You know? (laughs)
Interviewer: Thank you so much for that. Yeah, and thank you so much for talking with us today.
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