Local Love

How to love your community while social distancing!

A couple of months ago, had anyone asked me if I believed we’d be smack in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic, I would’ve told them we’d have a better chance of unicorns falling from the sky. Today, I am in disbelief of the massive, seemingly overnight change in our world. We are in an uncharted and uneasy time as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Shelter in place orders are now in effect across the world, millions of Americans are either out of work or working in an entirely new capacity, grocery store aisles are barren at times, and the toilet paper crisis continues. Coronavirus has become the center of all discussions, news reports and social media posts.

It’s true we must be steadfast and resolve to do our part to lessen the spread of this terrible virus. Staying at home, washing our hands, distancing at least six feet and disinfecting surfaces are all excellent daily practices. And, while the news can be stressful and scary, it’s also a time for us to take stock and reevaluate what’s important. Remembering what we love about our homes and our communities is what will keep us going. Yes, having the kids at home to learn virtually can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes, there will be more laundry, a higher grocery bill, and, at times, people will get on each other’s nerves. It’s times like these that we just need to put ourselves in a time-out. Five minutes to breathe, meditate, eat a cream cheese danish–whatever will calm the nerves.

Business wise, travel and tourism has taken a hard hit. Experts predict our industry numbers could be six times worse than that of 9/11. Here at home, our own restaurants are trying to survive on curbside orders, and hotels are down to a skeleton crew, if open at all. We don’t know when things will rebound, or if all of our tourism partners will recover. It’s similar in many industries. We’ve shifted our messaging from bringing in group tours and family reunions, business meetings and sports tournaments, to daily dining-at-a-distance options for our residents to continue supporting our local merchants (and enjoy a break from kitchen duty). We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know when things will get better. We do, however, stand by ready to help our merchants by promoting their online offers, pushing out their messaging and lending an ear as needed. We’re in this together—we are a community.

To that end, we created a local love challenge. Similar to bingo, we think it will be a fun idea to try at home with your family while you shelter in place. See if you can cross off all 12 spots, and then, create a few of your own. The goal here is to be mindful of helping others–whether that is continuing to support local businesses or making a neighbor smile.

Down the road when the virus is wiped out and it’s safe to explore again, we hope you will be able to travel to help reignite the economy. If your budget doesn’t allow a destination far from home, we invite you to explore Merriam…outside of your own home! As always, the Visitors Bureau is a great resource in planning your itinerary in Merriam, Kansas! Until then, stay safe out there and show some love for your local community–at a distance!

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