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4 Reminders About Being Connected During Social Distancing

New MCF Donor Engagement Manager
Alicia Chalmers, Manager of Donor Engagement

As an extreme extrovert I knew it would be hard to social distance.  I thrive on my connections and relationships with people.

Last week I joined the Rich Harwood Facebook Live event, all about learning and living into social distancing. We all have things that are grounding us and are giving us hope during this time of uncertainty, and Rich Harwood was one for me.

I am one of many Harwood Public Innovators on the Suncoast as trained by the Harwood Institute. What does that mean, you might ask? I have participated in two Public Innovator Labs by The Harwood Institute, founded by Rich Harwood. Core beliefs as stated by Rich:

Real, lasting change occurs only when people and communities are part of the solution. We bring people on the front lines of creating change in communities to challenge conventional assumptions, learn together, inspire one another and strengthen our collective ability to be a force for good. The Harwood Institute is the go-to place for people and organizations looking for ways to fight against the negative conditions stifling progress in society. We teach and coach people from all walks of life how to move society forward by building stronger communities, bridging divides and creating a culture of shared responsibility. Unlike other groups that support communities, we get to the core of what it takes to create real progress and change. We give people who feel stuck a renewed sense of hope and a real path forward.

To me, being a public innovator means that you are willing to step forward, turn outward, listen to the community, and never arrive with the answer. Rich Harwood shared that words matter, and our concerns are real and validated. This is not the time to disconnect, lean away, or turn inward. It is still a time to be connected in many ways. Rich also had four takeaways:

1. Make Crisis About Community
a. Do not take a “victim” mindset during pandemic
b. Stay attuned and be in motion

2. See Ourselves as Doers
a. Be helpers and look for where we can act.
b. Can you share goods, help your neighbor, check on shut ins?

3. Take Back the Shared Narrative
a. Our collective “can-do” spirit has and always will be our asset
b. Choose not to wallow, attitude is everything

4. Talk Shared Aspirations
a. Illuminate the good going on everywhere
b. Speak out loud and turn outward

Want to learn more in 30 minutes? Join me and The Harwood Institute Facebook live on Wednesday March 25th at 4pm. I know I can use the inspiration and connectedness.


Alicia Chalmers is the Manager of Donor Engagement at Manatee Community Foundation. You can reach her at