Guest post by Jonna Huseman

What is your profession/involvement in the community?
Founder and principal broker at Go Brent, and founder of Silver Spring Cares.

How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
I’ve had to retool almost every facet of my business to meet the demands of social distancing, so I’ve been doing a lot of macro thinking—what works, what needs to improve. I’ve also been spending a lot of time working with our foundation, Silver Spring Cares, to respond to the needs of our neighbors who have been so immediately and profoundly affected by the shelter in place orders. Of course, the housing market has hit a bit of a “pause.” In our area, there are many fewer sellers and also fewer buyers, although we are still seeing multiple-offer scenarios! 

Are you working more or less?
Spring is the busiest season in real estate, so you’d think I’m working less given the lockdown but actually, I’ve been just as busy as I would ordinarily be. I’m just focused on the longer-term health of my business and my community.

What are you most afraid of?
Of course, I worry about the health of my family, friends and neighbors. This virus isn’t just going away. In fact, the CDC is raising the specter of an even more deadly wave during the coming flu season. Will our federal, state and local governments be prepared?  

I worry for the more vulnerable people in our community—are they able to access the resources they need in terms of day-to-day necessities? In terms of their health? How will they make ends meet in the short term? How long will it take them to resume anything like a normal life? 

What are you most hopeful for?
I’m a firm believer in human compassion and ingenuity. I think a lot of good is going to come out of this crisis. Our society will see fundamental transformations take place, maybe in healthcare, education, the workplace. Businesses will fundamentally change the way they do business, and governments will shift as society shifts.

What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
I think it’s the uncertainty. I’m a planner, so not knowing how long this crisis is going to last, when it might resurface, it’s a daily challenge. That said, I’m also a responder, a doer, a jumper-inner, so keeping productive has not been a problem! 

Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
Ohhh, let me count the ways! I am an introvert, believe it or not, so there’s plenty to keep me happy in my 1953 Silver Spring rambler. I’ve set up a home office in the guest room; I’m shooting videos in my living room…and walking more with my dog Tess!

What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
I think this crisis has laid bare some of the most fundamental problems in our society. Income inequality, the fractured healthcare system, the lack of a real social safety net, the lack of educational opportunity for all.

As I said before—I’m hopeful that this crisis will change things in fundamental ways. It won’t change everything, and it won’t happen fast, but change is going to happen.

How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
I’ve really gotten better over the years not worrying about things I don’t have any control over, so that helps. I don’t have small kids to entertain, so really, I have nothing to complain about. But the basics, getting to bed early, keeping a regular schedule, eating well, exercising. And Netflix!

What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
That Go Brent is here for you—if you have questions about financial concerns like mortgage forbearance, if you’re spending all of this time indoors wondering what improvements you might make that would provide the biggest bang for the buck. If you or someone you know needs a helping hand from Silver Spring Cares. We’re here. Give us a shout.

Jonna Huseman is a family photographer who serves Silver Spring and beyond. During the COVID-19 crisis, she is using her free time to document the lives of friends and neighbors living through the pandemic.

Author’s note: Over the coming days and weeks I am documenting the lives of dozens of members of the Silver Spring and Takoma Park community. My goal is to talk to teachers and students, religious leaders, small business owners, frontline workers, parents, elected leaders, and private citizens. I want to learn about our collective hopes and dreams, our biggest challenges, and our greatest triumphs. Mostly, I want to build connection and create community at a time when we need it the most. If you live or work in Silver Spring or Takoma Park and are interested in having your life documented at this time—or know someone who has a unique experience and is willing to share—please contact me. To all those who have made this project possible, including Source of the Spring, I thank you for your time and generosity. To the neighbors who will respond in the future, I look forward to getting to know you. And to everyone reading—stay healthy and safe. We will make it through.

Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Liz Brent, Go Brent