Katy GermanKaty German

Perspectives from CDSS Executive Director Katy German

Dear Organizers,

I want to say thank you to all of you who are still carrying the mantle of organizer for your communities, even though much is still uncertain and guidelines are changing all the time these days. I also want to make sure you know that we at CDSS are really, really in awe of your dedication and passion for everything you’ve been working through. We realize the conversations and questions are exhausting, and we know your communities will come out stronger, because of how much you care about this and how much time you’re putting into it.

Since risk levels and safety considerations vary by individual and community, we aren’t going to be able to provide definitive answers to all the questions we’ve received. We know it’s maddening to not know when and how it’s safe to return to the traditions we love, and we wish we could give you the magic recipe. But it would be irresponsible for us to tell you, “This is the formula that absolutely prevents all risk and harm for your community.”

The good news is that even though we may feel fragmented, we are actually all in this experiment together. And we know how to do things together well! This is not a randomized trial we are in. Right now we get to choose which test group we want to be part of: some are ready to go back as soon as possible, some won’t be ready for a good long time, and others are everywhere in between. Each one of these groups can help us all learn and understand how to best take care of our communities, and we really need to be able to learn from each other now. Our hope for our larger community, as different and varied as we are, is that we can resist the urge to shame and attack and fight amongst ourselves, and think of us as playing different roles amidst this big experiment.

We need to have good communication across the board even when we disagree, because organizers need to make conscientious and careful decisions that will impact their communities. The experiences and perspectives of others help us to make informed decisions in difficult times. For example, CDSS has decided to move forward to having in-person camp programs for vaccinated individuals only this year, and we know that some of our broader community isn’t ready for that. We listened to many voices and ultimately made a decision that feels right for our situation. It is so hard when we aren’t all on the same page. And it’s particularly unsettling for all of us singers, dancers, and musicians who like to be in step and in tune with each other!

So I hope that we can continue working together, making our own decisions, listening to others as they make decisions that are different, and supporting each other through this unpredictable time. I think that's our best path forward.

With gratitude for all that you do,

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