Greenville Talking to ACORN’s head organizer in France from one of the organization’s offices in Lyon was something of an other-worldly experience. He was cancelling a train trip to Paris and had only hours to get back to his home in Grenoble. The President of France has ordered a fifteen-day period where all residents were expected to stay at home except for essential trips to the grocery store. The real period of containment he explained is forty-five days, when restrictions will be in force. We joked that he was finally going to have the organizers take the time to become good at phone banking and phone recruitment, which previously had continually fallen off the to-do-list.
Seven counties in Northern California are under stay-at-home restrictions now except for essential personnel. My cousin called from San Jose to check-in while we were walking Lucha along the Mississippi River. She runs the finances for a private school. She has no choice but to go in during the period to do some tasks even though she can make payroll remotely. Construction projects at her school that were due to be finished in a month are now up in the air. Her husband works for Apple and has already been telecommuting for the last two weeks. Apple has suspended all construction contracts in the same way that they have shuttered their stores around the world.
One of mi companera’s cousins was in New Orleans and in the midst of signing on to do some painting at our building, he hightailed it out of town on a possible job offer in the Twin Cities, because he had heard the city might be quarantined and travel in and out restricted. We thought that was a pretty wild rumor last week until a friend of our daughter’s with another friend in the fire department told her that perhaps today there would be travel restrictions proposed for the city within forty-eight hours. We might scoff, but when another friend had warned her that our coffeehouse and all other restaurants, bars, and more would be closed except for takeout at 3pm yesterday, it turned out we could have set our watches to the announcement by the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor shutting the state down in the face of the epidemic.
Managing three radio stations hop skipping between New Orleans, Greenville, and Little Rock, ironically, I find myself classified as essential personnel. Radio goes to our people and jumps over the digital divide, highlighting another way that lower income families and especially their children will be slammed in this pandemic. Regardless, my daughter’s concerns are paramount, so I’ll make sure they’re battened down so that they can run seamlessly 24-7 to get out the warnings, spread the news, and give people comfort and support, then I’ll Hank Snow it back to Dodge.
As my son and I sat in our kitchen in the early evening trying to make a plan to provide takeout at Fair Grinds Coffeehouses for several hours a day, his face was dark with the clouds of worry and stress. As he left, he turned to me and said, “I don’t like any of this!”
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International