How virtual care lab Builds Community in Online Spaces
DATE: Fall 2021
Covid-19 magnified overlapping crises: climate change, racial inequality, the lack of a social safety net in the United States, to name a few. From mutual aid initiatives to demonstrations, the past year has revealed the importance of cultivating authentic and compassionate community. This work can and should predate a crisis. The lesson was driven home for me years ago in response to the 2016 Ghost Ship fire. Mere hours after the flames engulfed the Oakland warehouse, a shared Google spreadsheet was set up to help crowdsource information about attendees’ whereabouts, phone numbers, family contacts, etc. Without the document, it would have taken weeks or months to identify those who were lost. While I mourned, I realized something fundamental—all we have is each other. This sense of love and responsibility has developed for me over time and through art—in other underground music venues, at art shows, and on dance floors. I’ve built a personal philosophy in which the practice of creating and experiencing art serves first and foremost to strengthen a sense of kinship. In our current moment, as many artists and arts organizers reconsider what continues to draw them to their work, I’ve been reflecting on recently emerged projects that directly focus on community. The online project space virtual care lab (VCL) took the crisis as an opportunity to forge community while we were all isolated and separated.