In these most challenging of times, Kennett Square is showing up in community colors. We have our living philosophy of being a peaceful, progressive inclusive community and this serves as our guide through not only the pandemic quarantine, but in the case of standing for Black Lives Matter!
We have learned through the pandemic that no one can do it all---feed, clothe, heal, comfort, house, employ and educate ourselves and our families. The collective impact that a network of social services has made as a unified team is off the charts. Meeting every Thursday on zoom meetings, over 50 entities are working together to assure everyone has their basic needs met.
We may think we are independent, until we are told that we are in danger of contracting a deadly virus if we step outside our home, followed by the message that only “essential workers” will be the ones that we can depend on. In isolation, many of us learned very quickly how everything we do affects someone else, not only in the realm of infection, but in terms of our relationships. Never before has it been so rewarding to belong to a loving community.
Southern Chester County has been dealing with a rise in COVID-19 positive numbers for over a month now. Addressing this as a community started with alerts brought to the Chester County Health Department about crowded living situations and the need for mushroom farms to have access to testing. In a matter of a week, funding was secured through SCC United Way and testing sites have been set-up in the high-risk areas with tracing of exposure contacts. Health education in Spanish and Mam (Guatemalan dialect) has been produced and partners are widely joining this effort. This is a community in action!
On a brighter side, even in lock down, we still have significant life events occurring. The many car parades with banners and balloons driving past friends for birthdays, retirements and graduations have showcased that community expressions can’t be held down. As one graduating blogger exclaimed; “Our community is awesome!”
We have learned that a small town can also serve as a model for standing together towards equality for each and all. The Kennett Area MLK Advocates echo the quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Our Kennett area community from town officials, alliances, all age groups, race and ethnicities joined together to stand up for Black Lives Matter on June 1st and spoke passionately against injustice and discrimination. This deep-seated national problem, with anger being rightly justified during the march was conducted in a peaceful manner in the Kennett community.
The shocking death of George Floyd on camerabrought vivid awareness that the police and the residents need to know and understand each other. With the East Linden Street neighborhood organization, Carter CDC, already building a strong relationship with the Kennett Police through National Night Out and Study Buddies, a foundation had been established for a meaningful town march for social justice for our black brothers and sisters.
Council woman, LaToya Myers interviewed Chief Bill Holdsworth on a YouTube video the night before the march, with questions that demonstrated the solidarity of beliefs between the police and neighborhoods. The following morning, a large crowd, organized byNaomi Simonson (former KHS student)along with the police took a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor the life of a black man, who was murdered by a policeman days earlier. The power of this community event continues to resonate throughout the area and says we know how to work together as a community.
Building a community through creating bridges has been a longtime Kennett community process. We have found that most people are deeply rewarded by stepping out of their small circle into the broader arena, but sometimes do it one bridge at a time!
These have been extremely difficult times, yet with a community creating the rim around all our individual spokes, we will indeed advance the town wheel forward and live into that Beloved Community that Martin Luther King held up as a lasting vision.