Caring for One Another

In a time when we are facing limited resources and interactions, we must reimagine “community” and build our resilience and collective strength in creative ways. Sunrise Project’s mission is to build an equitable community through education, good food and social connection. Our path to building an equitable community has always addressed the root causes of social issues while inspiring people of all backgrounds to explore self-determination through the growing, cooking and communal eating of good food, however that is defined for each person. How do we do that in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when caring for our community means staying away and isolating?

For one, we are responding to people’s need for food and supplies through our community shelves. We have transformed Sunrise Project’s front porch into a community pantry where folks can drop off and/or take supplies that they need. The shelves are always open. This approach aligns with our free food model where during the growing season, Sunrise Community Garden at 1501 Learnard and Lawrence Community Orchard (830 Garfield) provide fresh produce to anyone in the community for no charge. We welcome the community to take care of one another by sharing supplies and collecting supplies, as needed, at Sunrise Project through our community shelves and look forward to offering fresh produce during the growing season in our garden and orchard.

Among many things that this pandemic and economic crisis is making apparent is the importance of growing our own food. We believe that our community’s self-sufficiency and resiliency is strengthened when we transform yards and empty lots into gardens where people can access fresh, healthy food for free. Thus, during this time when we must all stay away from one another, Sunrise Project is growing plants in the greenhouse and planting gardens and fruit trees. All of this is for the community, so that people can grow food and/or harvest at our free food sites.

This week, as we have been providing food through our community shelves at Sunrise, we have heard that many people would like to learn how to cook dried beans, root vegetables and/or learn how to make food a little differently to keep things interesting, especially when working with basic supplies and limited amounts. We ask the community to share recipes with us, leave some inspiration on the community shelves, make a video to share, or any other idea you have to connect with others and share your culinary wisdom and skills. Share resources through our community shelves and/or email with your resources or ideas!

Lastly, many folks that have reached out to us for food and/or supplies have shared their stories and concerns about bills, especially rent. People have always struggled in this economic system to survive and the inequalities that are created in our capitalist economy are making people more vulnerable than ever. We support the Sunrise Movement in calling for our city leaders to immediately address the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community through the following actions:

  • Moratorium on evictions for at minimum a period of sixty days.

  • Continue the moratorium on utility shut-off due to nonpayment.

  • Incentives (tax or otherwise) for local businesses providing paid leave to employees and independent contractors during virus-related closures.

  • Incentives (tax or otherwise) for local businesses providing paid sick leave to employees and independent contractors.

  • Suspension of fines and arrests for panhandling.

  • Suspension of homeless camp sweeps and the destruction of personal belongings.

  • Suspension of fines and arrests for illegal camping.

  • Continued pickup or delivery of meals for USD 497 students relying on free school-provided meals for as long as the schools are closed.

  • Multi-location free access to bathrooms and/or sanitizing measures for unhoused folks, accessible a minimum of 12 consecutive hours daily.

  • Access to coronavirus testing free of charge as soon as available to the public, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

In addition to the above, Sunrise Project advocates for a freeze on rent at this time and we advocate that vacant homes and apartments be made available to houseless folks who need sheltered during this pandemic.

We believe that Lawrence can be a model for other communities in how to take care of each other. We should always be that community. In a time when change is happening rapidly, the best way to manage is to adapt and build community in creative ways. Sunrise Project is committed to this challenge.

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