On March 8, 2020, several members of the Hudson Street Potluck listserv met at Andrea's house to discuss actions that we as a neighborhood can take to prepare for the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

People who attended:

Overarching goal: Set a community tone of calm, preparedness, and mutual care.

We identified three main areas for action:

  1. Establishing communication within the neighborhood
  2. Communicating with and/or lobbying the government for resources we can't provide for ourselves
  3. Figuring out resource needs and availability that will help each of us prepare, and identify ways in which we can help each other out

Preliminary task allocation:

Tim, Andrea, Elissa, Karen: to work on communications

Hila and Pagan: to work on government liaison, advocacy

Alexandra: 1) Locate websites listing main items each household should have on hand to prepare for illness and / or quarantine, 2) bottom-line the creation of an executive summary of the meeting to share on the listserv


  1. Establishing communication within the neighborhood
    1. Goals:
      1. Baseline is to ensure that everyone in the neighborhood has ways to ask for, and offer, help
      2. Make sure that there is a way to distribute important news, e.g. PSAs to community, MRC (Medical Reserve Corps) trainings, getting people connected to other information sources
      3. Establish ways to communicate "up" to government, etc., enabling us to "lead from below" (see B)
      4. Communicate "out" to nearby communities
    2. Numerous possible modes of communication
      1. Hudson Street Potluck listserv - this is our starting point, and it will be good to build on this
      2. Shared contact-information document
      3. Create a Facebook group?
      4. Next Door (https://nextdoor.com/ )
      5. Phone tree
      6. Low tech: going door-to-door, or in cases where contact needs to be avoided having neighbors put signs in the window
    3. A number of neighbors are working on gathering contact information through flyering, postering, and knocking door-to-door
      1. Elissa M. has drafted a preliminary flyer/form for neighbors to complete and return to her, this draft can be distributed to the working group before we start going door-to-door
        1. Revised version of flyer should include: question about languages spoken (both primary and secondary), URL for the website Tim is setting up, QR code for website
        2. Note: Andrea is retired and is happy to do repetitive tasks such as data-entry
      2. Tim is setting up a shared spreadsheet document and online questionaire
      3. It is also possible to distribute flyers electronically and invite extended community to print and distribute in their communities, but we should be thoughtful about geographic scope (see below)
    4. A website of communication resources can serve as a central hub
      1. Can use to point people to listserv subscription information
      2. Can also provide basic information, e.g. on how to self-isolate, sanitize, what supplies to keep on hand to prepare for both quarantine and/or illness
    5. We need to establish clear geographic scope for our communications infrastructure
      1. We decided a starting point would be the same geographic scope as the Hudson Street Potluck listserv, i.e. Hudson Street itself
      2. We should attempt to establish communication with every house on Hudson Street
      3. In initial stages we might also include Benton Road and Waldo Street, which are shorter streets and with only a few households
      4. After we've gotten a sense of how much work it is to get communications set up for Hudson Street, we can consider branching out to Albion and parallel blocks on Highland as well
      5. Non-Hudson neighbors who are on the listserv are of course welcome to participate and might bring in additional neighbors if desired, but for now we won't proactively try to be exhaustively inclusive of any other streets
    6. We should make special effort to make sure that resources are available to non-English speakers as well
      1. Key starting point - make sure that neighbors are aware of SomervilleHub website, which provides materials in 17 languages
      2. There are some known non-English-speaking households in the neighborhood, including three houses all speaking different Chinese languages
  2. Communicating with and/or lobbying the government for resources we can't provide for ourselves
    1. Key issue seems to be availability of test kits for high vulnerability communities, e.g. nursing home residents - can Massachusetts leverage its numerous bio labs toward increasing availability
    2. We might also advocate for better telemedicine resources, although some of this might come down to educating residents about when to phone doctors versus going in (goal: avoid overtaxing medical infrastructure and minimize unnecessary exposure)
    3. Website and possible eventual blog might be a way to keep city and state officials informed of what is going on without overtaxing their resources
  3. Figuring out resource needs and availability that will help each of us prepare, and identify ways in which we can help each other out
    1. Many resource needs will be best identified by setting up communications infrastructure and seeing what people ask for, e.g. we might not be able to anticipate how much need there will be for:
      1. Food delivery
      2. Child care
      3. Physical assistance
      4. Rides, etc. ...but if communication infrastructure is in place, requests can be made as-needed
    2. Right now, the important thing for most households is storing up food, medicine, and other essentials, so that they can safely self-isolate whether as a precaution, as part of a required quarantine, or because they are ill
      1. There are numerous websites that offer guidelines on what kinds of things you should be storing; Alexandra can identify one or two that look legitimate and distribute them
      2. Note that needs will be different if you are actually sick
    3. Another part of this is setting up norms of self-isolation and sanitation measures, for example
      1. Avoid touching face casually: either keep tissues on hand for touching face or make habit of cleaning hands carefully after touching face
      2. Learn good handwashing technique
      3. Keep mental track of what has been contaminated by your own germs and what might be contaminated by other people's germs
      4. Carry spray sanitizer (this can be a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol) to clean hands frequently when handwashing is impossible
      5. Maybe carry alcohol wipes for subway poles, etc.?