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MARTHA MUZYCHKA: And they told two friends, and so on, and so on…

During the state of emergency this week, people affected by the storm shared many things, including a recipe for making bread. —
During the state of emergency this week, people affected by the storm shared many things, including a recipe for making bread. — 123RF Stock photo

Snowmageddon, as last Friday’s storm of the century is being described, will likely be an unending source of commentary and observation. I’m not a municipal planner, a driver of heavy equipment or a bus driver, even though there have been times in my life when I felt like a taxi driver.

So, while I have some thoughts about some aspects of this week’s post-storm adventures, I have been thinking more about basics, things like milk, bread, eggs, etc.

Lots of commentary on Tuesday focused on the demands for milk and bread when the grocery stores opened. Some locations were limiting buyers to two loaves of bread and two cartons of milk, while bakers worked steadily to meet demand and dairies scaled up, back to normal production levels.

Let’s face it, bread and milk offer great opportunities for sustenance. Bread can be toasted, grilled and fried, or just eaten plain as a conveyance for jam and peanut butter, or ham or cheese (or both). Toast is comforting and can be dunked into boiled eggs or your tea if the edges are crunchy.

What made me happy, though, was the number of people sharing a simple bread recipe that made enough for a day and a small family. And how often these people said they had been afraid to make bread but they had run out, or they couldn't get to the grocery store, or they couldn't face a lineup.

I remembered a post a friend had made about how to make a safe heat source in case your power went out, with simple things that most people have in their homes.

Now this isn't about how everyone should do these things. For a number of reasons, lots of people in our community do not have access to the resources that allow them to stock up, or to manage the stress that comes with a storm, or even to handle the basic needs of daily living.

This is about how certain life skills have been lost, dropped by the wayside in worship of modern convenience. Why learn how to make bread when you can get it a lovely loaf from the corner store or local bakery? Why learn how to sew on a button or darn a sock when you can replace an item quite cheaply? 

What has emerged from the stories and experiences people have shared around the word about this past week has not just been about kindness and generosity but also about the building of resiliency and community through knowledge sharing.

I’m not saying that we all have to revert to our forebears and scrub our laundry with rocks, but have we done a disservice to many with our focus on instant solutions, most of which do not involve our own personal labour?

A key component of managing, even surviving stressful events is resiliency. Being able to bounce back, to manage difficult or ordinary challenges is critical.

What has emerged from the stories and experiences people have shared around the word about this past week has not just been about kindness and generosity but also about the building of resiliency and community through knowledge sharing.

If you can, you do and you share. If you can't, then there are people who will help. The trick is knowing who needs the help, who has the skills, and who has the means.

Lots of people rail on about the evils of social media. And yes, there are some poisonous corners and some truly unpleasant people out there.

But it’s also a way to connect and unite those who have been separated, usually by distance. I’m heartened by how many people have shared knowledge to help those who need it.

This past week I have seen Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of the tipping point illustrated in spades. It really is not who you know, but who they know and what you all know. Often in minutes, people got connected to what they needed and it was brilliant to see it unfold in real time.

We talk about gig, sharing and knowledge economies. I’d like us to talk more about the knowledge-building economy, because I believe it creates resiliency and strength in our communities. If it starts with a simple load of bread from a viral recipe, then I think we can call it a good start.

Martha Muzychka is a St. John’s-based writer. Email: socialnotes@gmail.com Twitter: @marthamuzychka


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