Collectively, 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years in many ways. Our perceptions of societal norms have been relentlessly questioned in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Relationships both old and new have been tested as a result of the politicization of the public health crisis. Many people lost loved ones and were not able to gather and mourn appropriately. Still, others are fighting with their mental health as a result of the sudden, abrupt ways the pandemic has changed our lives. How COVID has affected our lives varies greatly, but the common thread is that the pandemic has been challenging for all of us.
With so many trying things happening to us at the same time, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negative. That’s when it’s more important than ever to seek out opportunities, connect with friends and get involved in our community. Throughout the pandemic, there have been amazing projects and collaborations happening all around the Southern Kenai Peninsula. All of them address one (or more!) of the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. The 8 Dimensions are social, educational, emotional, spiritual, cultural, environmental, economic and physical. To truly thrive as both individuals and as a community, all eight dimensions must be acknowledged and nurtured. Focusing on these dimensions on a personal level first allows us to bring our best selves forward to promote this nurturing within our communities.
Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
There are many people and organizations committed to making the Southern Kenai Peninsula a more positive, equitable, inclusive and resilient place to live. There are a plethora of projects, resources and collaborations that are addressing various dimensions of wellness — many address more than one dimension simultaneously.
For example, Kachemak Bay Campus’ Semester by the Bay Program promotes both educational and environmental wellness. Students from around the country are welcomed to Homer to learn about marine life and the ecology of Kachemak Bay. Friends of the Homer Skatepark addresses both physical and social wellness, by encouraging people to be active outside, as well as providing a place for people to congregate and build interpersonal relationships. The intersectionality of these dimensions and the impact these projects have on a local level cannot be overstated. Grassroots organizing and community engagement have the capacity to radically transform our communities, in the very best ways.
During tough times, the importance of finding positive ways to get engaged is magnified. I encourage anyone interested in learning more about existing collaborative projects being done locally to join MAPP’s virtual Community Meeting on Dec. 17 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The meeting cultivates community wellness and brings us all together to focus on positive change happening within the Southern Kenai Peninsula. The meeting will be held via Zoom — pre-registration is required and can be found at https://fb.me/e/1oQ3iOjSY. If you’re interested in attending and need support on accessing the meeting, please email email@example.com.
Lauren Jerew is a midwest transplant who has lived in Homer since 2016. She works as the communications coordinator for MAPP and Southern Kenai Peninsula Resilience Coalition. She loves nurturing her houseplants, beach walks with her dog, listening to podcasts, and reading non-fiction.
MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) is a local health improvement coalition with the vision of a proactive, resilient and innovative community.