I’ve been trying to cull stories of what I call Creative Coping—businesses or people using creative solutions or workarounds during the pandemic. Sometimes they’re business strategies, often they’re just ways of adding delight in a dark time. In my pandemic fog, I often forget to write them down when one crosses my path.
Here are just a few.
This is a shout-out to two dear East coast friends, both graphic designers like myself. For years they’ve been taking weekly walks and leaving their creative mark at the foot of a bridge crossing a creek. I always look forward to these positive blurbs appearing in my Instagram feed. Their messages took on new meaning in the last year. I particularly like the temporal quality of their messages. When the rain comes, the messages disappear, creating a new blank canvas. They finally created their own Chalk Ladies Instagram account. Sometimes they get pretty fancy.
Puppet Fashion Show
The Italian fashion line Moschino, not being able to hold and in-person runway show, turned to puppets instead. The Jim Henson Company Creature Shop created 40 puppets of both models and audience (you might recognize some faces). One thing I particularly loved about this story is that the inside construction is on the outside, showing attention to detail. Frankly I wouldn’t go back to live models; the puppets are a delight. Imagine getting some of those outfits for your Barbies, er, your kids’ Barbies. Watch the video here.
I love to read the Tables for Two food column in the New Yorker even though I don’t live in New York. A recent column takes you on all the twists and turns of Hunky Dory. The pandemic has been anything but hunky dory for restaurants, but the woman behind this place is what I’d call a creative coping genius. Agility is the name of the game in this story, being open to trying anything to stay afloat from movie nights to political postcard-writing events and more.
This isn’t so much a story of creative coping, but a commentary on mask wearing. I’ve had a theory that some anti-maskers are not so much rabid freedom protectors but perhaps simply vain! The Dance Theater of Harlem shows, through this beautiful video, that beauty exists even, or especially, when masked. What’s important about this piece is that it will forever mark a moment (too long a moment) in time in such a visually powerful way. On a side note, I watched a stunning classical music flash mob video that’s several years old. I remember thinking, “Oh no! Those people are too close together and no one has a mask on.” So accustomed we are to mask wearing in such a short time. Watch this six minutes of pure joy.
Bring It To the People
What do you do for entertainment during a pandemic? You create the first mobile bowling alley. Thanks to Terence Jackson Jr. of Luxury Strike Bowling, the good people of Detroit can enjoy their own private bowling party in front of their house. Listen to the story here.
To Each His Own Dot
Many cities put a positive spin on the idea of social distancing by installing giant circles or other shapes in parks. In my own city of Portland, OR, local artist Bill Will was commissioned to create an array of colorful dots in what’s known as Portland’s living room (Pioneer Square). But the dots served not only to keep people separate but also encourage pop-up concerts, poetry readings and more, like mini stages.
If you have a good example of creative coping, please share in the comments!