A quick update on how we are doing in this time of rapid change: Probably we are coping about the same way you are—feeling our way along, trying to make good decisions for the right reasons, figuring out how to hold cyber meetings, balancing personal concerns (like helping my daughter move out of her college dorm today) with those of running a business.

I know our work involves people who fall into high risk groups for public health because of minimal English and literacy, unreliable employment, healthcare insecurity. We know we have a privilege and a responsibility and we’re taking it seriously. The experience also increases my admiration for the many we work with who have navigated far more unpredictable and dangerous circumstances than we can imagine, and maintained their composure and sense of humor and grace. We do feel supported by staff, board, supporters, advisors, and customers who are wise, encouraging, and inspiring.

At the most personal level, I’m trying to stay curious about my own anxieties. It’s kind of amazing how much fear is in the air and how it gusts and then pauses with the latest rumor or headline or decision that needs to be made. I usually tend to get clear-headed in a crisis, but I also sense fear waiting there, like a car in the driveway, ready to take me on some crazy spin.

I’d rather not right now. I know fear doesn’t lead to good decisions or keep people safe. Our country was full of way too much fear before we’d even heard of COVID-19. The phrase that keeps sticking in my head is that "love drives out fear.” I’ve just finished an interesting book (bell hooks, all about love) that explores this idea in pretty practical ways. I bought the book super-cheap on Kindle (it seems to be regular priced now) and was kind of using it sleep aid until late February. Then I devoured the rest in one sitting and keep looking back through my notes. I know I can sometimes make the same decision out of either love or fear—yet what a difference between these two.

As for Beautiful Day granola: here are a few things to know:

—We are closing our farmers’ markets for a time, starting tomorrow, as a way to do our small part in keeping our staff and the public safe.
—For now we plan to keep scheduling kitchen shifts, though with a reduced staff. We’re especially like to seize any time we’ve got in production with our trainees (with translators!) and our youth cohort to answer questions and teach what we can about washing hands, social distancing, keeping everyone safe.
—Our online store will stay open for business—so please keep your orders coming! We hope our farmers’ market regulars will visit. These orders will be even more important than usual for our finances and mission as retail sales may slide. Thankfully, we have our own storage and fulfillment center, so we're set up well with a safe, sanitary, controlled-access working space. We have granola ready to send out and even a fresh new batch of our heirloom Ethiopian coffee ready for the coming days of working from home.
—We’re making a financial commitment to those on our payroll even while closing farmers’ markets. Most of our part-time staff work multiple jobs in services industries that could be especially hard hit over the next few weeks.
—We are moving most of our other work including board and some staff meetings to a virtual space. I bought a Zoom subscription today and already took it for a ride. I also touched base with our college interns (helping with our marketing and social media) today as their universities shift to on-line learning. They're sticking with us, even though it might mean we’ll be working across timezones and from other countries. It’s a lot to learn.

Still today is a beautiful day to be unafraid. We have good work to do and great people to do it with. While entering what could potentially be a financially challenging time, we also received a significant anonymous gift this week. Thanks to whoever sent that! It really encouraged us. It inspires us to be part of the the ripple effect of generosity. It reminds us that we are in this together.

Written by Keith Cooper

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