"Love in the Time of Cholera"
ORA Board of Directors - April 14, 2020
One of Oswego's neighbors applying for the Renaissance Block Challenge Grant this year told us this whole state of affairs with Coronavirus in Spring 2020 reminded her of the book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We didn't ask if she had read the book, but it is about developing relationships in an age where people strive to live their lives in the face of things they could not control.
Not unlike today.
In Oswego NY we see evidence of this all around us. It is simple yet inspiring when we see neighbors helping each other. Oswego's first responders rightfully are at the forefront of our minds. They deserve our thanks and support. But so too can we recognize the impact of less visible, ordinary people. We know first hand of countless instances of people calling to check on elderly neighbors, households making food or getting groceries for people that can't risk going outside, and local businesses - already under strain - making free lunch gifts for many public workers and health professionals of who put their lives at risk to help others. Whether big or small, the way Oswego's neighbors have been helping each other speaks volumes to who we are all as people.
And we are proud of the way so many groups of neighbors are planning for the other side of this crisis when it subsides. We had thought that with all that was going on, we might see fewer than half as many neighborhood groups applying to partner with the ORA to improve their blocks this year. Yet to our amazement, no fewer than 22 different neighborhoods have organized groups via email and other remote communications to apply for the Renaissance Block Challenge and Pride Grants. It is pretty clear that neighbors are working together. Even remotely. Even in uncertainty.
This highlights an important aspect of Oswego's character that should not be missed.
Like all communities throughout the US, Oswego has been through larger challenges in the past -- the 1918 Flu Pandemic, two World Wars and other events too numerous to mention. That despite all that is happening, neighbors throughout Oswego are not fragile and panic-prone, rather resilient and realistic. They know we will weather the current storm. That there will be a tomorrow. And they are acting on it.
But what sets Oswego apart, and heralds a strong future past this crisis, is how we have already been rebuilding our community from the inside out. The momentum we have generated as a community for the last several years has happened because we Oswegonians have been making it happen. Not because of some outside agency. Not because some new factory came to town. No - this has not been some lucky happenstance. It has been through our own efforts, what we do on our own blocks, who we choose as leaders, and what vision we pursue. And most importantly, its has happened because of our own confidence that we can become better than we are today. The same people - us - that lived here before coronavirus will be the same ones after. This crisis will not define where Oswego goes next, because we have already been defining that ourselves.
And we are showing in every way that we will not just endure, but continue to grow well past the current stormy weather.
So let's keep being "us." Checking in our neighbors. Doing the next smallest thing we can do to make life a little better for others, and for our families. Yes, we all know the cliche that the sun will rise tomorrow. But cliches are such because they are generally true.
More importantly, we will rise to meet it