-Rachel Siegel, Executive Director
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board and staff of the Peace & Justice Center have decided to temporarily close our store and center to the public as of Friday, March 13. This decision aligns with our commitment to collective care and the centering of most impacted people. It directly impacts our constituents, our programming, our staff, and our volunteers but seems the responsible choice. We will revisit our decision-making and actions every two weeks during this situation.
We looked at the situation through an equity lens, with the following priorities:
- public health,
- staff wellness,
- our mission, and
- organizational sustainability (which is a combination of our mission and staff wellness/payroll, so this could arguably be three factors rather than four).
In addition to temporarily closing the store and center, PJC is taking the following steps:
- staff will mostly work from home and will disinfect their areas when working at the Center,
- some of our events will move to online platforms, and
- our work will slow down.
No one wishes this pandemic on anyone, but there are certain to be some blessings that emerge. Slowing down seems to be one such blessing. Adrienne Maree Brown speaks of this.
Perhaps the scariest part of this decision is the impact it has on our ability to pay staff. We are exploring equitable ways to continue to compensate staff through this crisis. This will take a lot of creativity and generosity. Most of our contracts for racial justice programming with other nonprofits and larger institutions are on hold and we will not have our store income during this time.
Even in good times, PJC has not maintained significant cash reserves to sustain operations without store revenue, program revenue, and donations. Currently, we have enough money for only one payroll. We are turning to our members and broader community (you) to help us through this period. If you can support us, please donate. Any amount will help.
What else is PJC doing, what else can you do?
There are many mutual aid systems being put in place around the state. These are opportunities for people who need support and services to get them directly from people who can provide them. Given that the government will not do enough, these community-driven and community-building ways to connect with our neighbors are critical. We list many of them here on our website. If you know of others, please let me know and we’ll add them. As Aja Taylor says in conversation with Adriane Maree Brown, we are collectively starting to listen to people who have been trying to teach us these pathways for a while.
Here is a beautiful thing that happened in Italy that exemplifies how beauty emerges in the cracks of this nightmare. I am committed to feeling my feelings of fear and anxiety but to not letting them envelope me. I will continue to look for ways to be part of movement building, loving relationships, art, and beauty. I will continue to listen and learn and follow the leadership of those most impacted. I will do this with you.