April Doner
I'm an ABCD practitioner, storyteller / roving illustrator and coach / consultant based in Indianapolis, IN. I was drawn to community and knowing peoples' gifts from a very young age, but found the words that matched my passion in college in 2005 when my favorite Sociology professor handed me the "big green book" (McKnight & Kretzmann's original ABCD book.) I practice ABCD in my own neighborhood and most recently have been leading a national project coaching capturing learnings from museums and libraries who are engaging with their communities using an ABCD framework. I have a wonderful 3 year old daughter and also enjoy exploring how ABCD helps parents, children and families thrive through my own experiments in cultivating neighborly mutuality in my own life.

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Putting my "Listing" Gifts to Work right now (COVID + ABCD Resource List)

user image 2020-05-08
By: April Doner
Posted in: Reflections and Ideas

Since COVID-19 erupted, I've been trying to find the "right" way to be useful. My attempts to help connect my neighborhood in Indianapolis, which I've moved from for now so my family can have childcare down in FL, are proving interminably slow. I can't sew and don't have a sewing machine, and my attempts through a friend's friend to support someone else's sewing campaign has met a dead end. I'm craving things to do with my time beyond reading about how badly this thing is hitting so many people, including communities of color and service workers. So far, the "concrete" help I've found a way to provide to others right now has been through donations to organizations based in the principles of mutual aid, community and individual capacity. I'm glad to have these avenues, but still crave a hands-on way I can give, help, support, and share.

As most often does, one of the answers came about quite organically and from left field, and was something I picked up doing almost without thinking about it -- from an inside urge I couldn't really help.

It began about a month and a half ago when my friend Amy Kedron posted an article she'd just written on Medium about how her experience organizing neighbors in her apartment complex in FL during a hurricane might prove useful in this time of COVID-19. Then more stories started pouring in, and tools, thought pieces, and beautiful visuals that inspired hope, courage, action or laughter (including many hilarious texts from my dear neighbor David across the street in Indy.)

So I did what I have done all my life:  Making lists! And organizing them, re-organizing, prettifying and reorganizing.

Here's the first one I made:

RESOURCES & INSPIRATION for Unleashing Abundance and Collective Care in Times of Crisis

Then I realized I needed one place to put all the amazing visuals I was seeing and put them here:

COVID-19 Visual Inspiration & Humor

And then this list sprang forth, because I wanted to lift up ways that those of us with some material security right now might share that in ways that go as directly as possible to people who are operating on principles of mutual aid, respecting the dignity of capacity of people (including those in need), and community building:

“Solidarity Not Charity” During COVID-19: Ways to Help While Building Community & Power

I had no big plans for these lists when I started them... but since they now exist, I've been sharing them on various channels I have some kind of connection to--and early on I invited my friends on the CommsTeam of the ABCD Institute to be co-creators of the first list. But to my delight, nearly every time I log into the "Resources and Inspiration" list, there are between 5 and 20 people also viewing it! (Yay for Google Docs for this fun, rewarding feature.)

I'm deeply happy to have found one outlet that merges my penchant for obsessively listing things, my love of stories and practical information, and my belief that our capacity to find a way through this critical time--maybe better than we were before? 

And while I still want to find my way into a more direct local flow of mutual aid within my community, perhaps there's a lesson here around trusting that our own assets, our own gifts -- infused with whatever passion makes those gifts feel most natural to give freely in one's spare time (including way after one should be going to bed!) -- is a good starting place for how we might begin to revive community in the bigger picture.

Who knows? This new world is a work in progress. But I feel better going into it with some lists in hand to use and share! And to be giving my gift.

How about you? What has your journey been so far in finding your way to be in community, exchange and contribution in these wild times?

Note: The lists are all crowdsourced so everyone is welcome to add to them too (info on contributing is in each list).