Guest post by Jonna Huseman

What is your profession?
Artist, maker, and owner of Handmade Habitat

How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
It’s been really unpredictable. The ways that my business brought in income has changed dramatically. Everything is online now. Before, we did more orders to stores. We had a small storefront and that’s closed. A lot of our other channels of income are non-existent right now. The good news is people are still buying. Since everyone is stuck at home I have the perfect business for that—candles, bath salts, soap, etc. Online sales have been great.

Are you working more or less?
It’s hard to tell. Last week I worked a lot. If things were normal, right now I would be working more. Technically I’m working less, but I’m working more than I anticipated for this time of the year.

What are you most afraid of?
I’ve been very lucky in that our online sales have been good. But I’m extremely worried about what happens after Mother’s Day. I’m worried about how long this goes on. We’re fortunate to live in an area here people have been able to keep government jobs. Where people are still spending money—and are very aware of where they are spending money. But the longer this goes on, I don’t know how sustainable it will be.

I’m also concerned about our collective futures—and how this will change people’s psyches. What happens when six months from now, or more, people are still concerned about touching things or using communal or public spaces? For example, I used to take Metro to my studio every day. One of my biggest joys was not getting in my car. I just don’t know how I’m going to feel about public transportation in the future.

What are you most hopeful for?
I think this is really forcing us to slow down as a society. I’m going to be sad if we go back to the crazy hustle-bustle, never-sleep culture that America is known for. 
 
What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
Last week was really difficult for me. I was freaking out about what the next few weeks are going to be like. When orders come in, I feel good, but when they don’t, I get nervous. The uncertainty is really getting to my head. No one knows how long this will last. And if it comes back in the fall—that’s my biggest fear. Noticeably, definitively since Trump got into office materials have been all over the place, events aren’t as good because when administrations change, the culture in D.C. changes. It’s difficult to keep going every year. You expect that you’re doing everything right and that your business should grow and your income should grow, but that’s not how things work in D.C. right now.
 
Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
I definitely appreciate being home more. Since I opened my studio last year, I haven’t been home as often. Being able to be home and hang out is really lovely—having the time to cook more has been great. I was talking with my mom about how we’re seeing more birds, and whether there are actually more birds out or we’ve just slowed down enough to actually see them and pay attention to them.
 
What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
I think that we will figure out what we do and don’t need and what we have been wasting our time on. At the end of the day ,I think we’ll all figure out what is most important to us. That’s what I’m learning, anyway.

How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
Lots of walks and being kinder to myself. If I feel stressed in the middle of the day, I just stop trying. I don’t feel the need to be busy because you can’t be busy and I’m okay with that. I’m perfectly content to have a cup of tea and make an apple turnover and just chill out. Having a dog is also nice because I have to take her on a walk. I think I’m out a lot more than people who don’t have pets. Having that rhythm helps keep me sane.

When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
I think it’s a really good lesson in that you cannot predict the future and you can’t take things for granted. If you would have told me six months ago that this was going to happen, I never could have guessed. I will also tell future generations to never stop washing your hands.

What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
I have a question for everyone: Is it safe to use the little free libraries? I’m not using them but I see people are still stocking them.

Also, everyone needs to support their local spots and their regular places and try to make an effort.  Otherwise, Amazon is going to rule us at the end of this. We should try to keep supporting our communities, especially if you want your community to look the same after the pandemic as it did before the pandemic.

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.

Mike Diegel