Guest post by Jonna Huseman

Profession/Involvement in community
I’m a community activist and founder of Fenton Village Inc.
How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
Life is quieter now. What I miss most are spontaneously running into my neighbors or the spontaneous neighborhood talks.

I definitely feel a renewed commitment to Fenton Village. I see these small businesses as very much part of our community. A lot of business owners live here in the neighborhood. Fenton Village is not like other business districts. It’s what everyone claims to want: neighborhood-serving retail. These business owners are my neighbors as much as anything else. 

Are you working more or less?
The first three weeks were extremely busy. I was working like crazy to get information to local business owners in the community. Businesses had to close so quickly, and I was doing what I could to keep everyone updated. I was fielding 30 to 50 emails a day, plus Zoom meetings. Since then, things have slowed down.

What are you most afraid of?
Trump going crazy, declaring martial law and cancelling the election.
What are you most hopeful for?
That this will change the general vilification of the working class. That people will realize a business model for government doesn’t work, and oligarchs owning all of our agencies doesn’t work.
What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
I think the most challenging thing is exploring what I want to with this phase in life. I don’t think this is going to end anytime soon. I’m a high-energy person—and I have to ask myself, what do I want to put my energy in? I believe this is going to result in a huge change in our society. In essence, I need to figure out: What do I want to be when I grow up? 

Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
There is a lot I enjoy about sheltering in place. I’m a big exercise person, so I’m walking three or four miles a day. My Tai Chi class is online now. I’m working in the yard, which gives me the time to focus and literally smell the roses. I’m lucky in this sense.

I’ve been able to focus on things I don’t always give attention to. I see this as a time to reflect on what you want to do, not what you have to do. I’m very much subscribing to finding happiness where you are.

Also, I am so impressed and proud of my community. This community is exceedingly generous, fun and caring. I’m feeling very grateful in that sense. I don’t feel as alone because people have stepped up and demonstrated that we are here for each other. Every time someone asks for something online, they get it ten-fold. For example, the other day an elderly couple in the neighborhood asked for groceries after expressing concern about going to the store, and just like that, friends and neighbors left groceries on their doorstep. That’s just how Silver Spring is.
What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
Oh, god only knows. I hope we learn to stop worshiping money.
How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
Physical exercise. I’m walking two to four miles every day. I’m doing as much physical stuff in the house and the yard—I’m fixing, painting, digging, weeding. Physical exercise keeps me happy and coping.
When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
I’ll tell them this was America’s version of the French Revolution: Where the lowliest workers are refusing to go to work for $2 an hour, where they finally have the power to make a demand. I’m hoping that working people rise up. I’m hoping this is that moment.
What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
I want people to know how proud I am of them and how grateful I am for them. How overall terrific they have been throughout all of this.

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. 

Mike Diegel