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Crowdsourcing support during social isolation

March 16, 2020, 8:14 PM UTC

This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here.

Cancel culture has a whole new meaning. 

New restrictions around gathering in public are happening on a minute-to-minute basis across the world. In the U.S., where the rate of testing lags behind other countries, the local announcements feel like a drip-drip-drip of bad news. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more be cancelled.

At press time, some 13 statesCalifornia, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington—have closed bars or wineries, most have asked for either reduced occupancy for restaurants, or to limit their service only to takeout or delivery.

And it increasingly looks like most schools will hold their classes entirely online for the rest of the semester, a terrible burden for kids from under-resourced homes, or with inadequate access to WiFi or technology.

But as everyone scrambles to stay sane inside, there are crowd-sourced moments of real sweetness to enjoy. 

We have learned that Italy has the world’s largest inventory of balconies, from which communities are singing and enjoying music together. Even dancing. Imagine that.

Sometimes it goes better than others.

Crowd-sourced support is becoming the way of the world, which is an encouraging sign.

Jackie Borchadt of the USA Network reports that kids in her Columbus, Ohio neighborhood have been giving impromptu cello recitals on the porch of elderly neighbors who are stuck inside. Nice idea! And celebrity PSAs have become an entertaining form of social pressure to flatten the curve; nobody wants to disappoint Warriors star Stephen Curry after all. And who doesn’t feel better knowing that Arnold Schwarzenegger is sheltering in place (like, in his kitchen) with a pony named Whiskey and a wee donkey named Lulu?

Embrace the #QuarantineLife and find binge-worthy show tips, comfort food recipes, and work-from-home productivity advice. There’s also homeschool support for folks who have suddenly housebound kids, ideas to help low-income college students cope with sudden quarantine, and lots of little ways to spare a thought for people who are suddenly financially vulnerable—like artists who rely on concerts or exhibits for their income, and who are now facing financial ruin. (One idea is to donate back any refunds to music venues and ask them to pay the artists and crew who are suddenly out of a gig. If you have cash to spare, consider supporting The Actors Fund.)

True, we’re in danger of pushing the GoFundMe economy to the brink, but the creativity and generosity is inspiring.

But it’s a lot to manage. So, I’ll leave you with wise words tweeted by Barbara Whye, Intel’s Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer:

“Leaders, listen: your employees are juggling lots. So breaking it down: 

1) some are dealing with worry about their elderly parents 
2) some are dealing with daycare, K-12, or university closures 
3) some have wi-fi access issues.

So [please] don’t act like all [is] normal tomorrow. #empathynow.”

Let’s make empathy a trend.

Ellen McGirt

On Point

The World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum launch a COVID-19 task force The COVID Action Platform now has more than 200 corporate members, including Alphabet, Nasdaq Inc., KPMG, and HP, according to Business Insider and is focused on three main priorities:

  • Galvanize the global business community for collective action  
  • Protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity  
  • Mobilize cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response  

"COVID-19 is causing health emergencies and economic disruptions that no single stakeholder can address," Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said in a statement.
COVID Action Forum

Joe Biden promises to name a female running mate, and a Black woman to the Supreme Court It was a bold moment in last night’s audience-free debate, and welcome news for anyone who was hoping for a woman on the ticket in any capacity. But while there have been some interesting women on the ticket for VP in the past, (Winona LaDuke, Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin), there have only been two African American Supreme Court justices, both male. Vox offers five potential jurists here, only three of whom are well known to raceAhead. Who would be the best choice for veep? House Majority Whip James Clyburn has some ideas. Political analyst Amber Phillips has a shortlist below.
Washington Post

The 100 best-designed products of the modern era In 1959, Fortune tapped the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) to create the first-ever survey of designers, architects, and teachers to come up with a list of the best of modern design. That alone is a fascinating snapshot of an era, heavily dominated by European and Scandinavian aesthetics. (Number one was the 1950 Olivetti Lettera 22 portable typewriter, designed by Marcello Nizzoli, from Ivrea, Italy.) But to mark the 60th anniversary of the list, Fortune teamed up with IIT again to create a new list, which has greatly expanded the category of objects to be considered (like interfaces and services), and now includes entries from Africa (only one) and East Asia. You’re probably reading the list for its top spot, but do click through for the masterclass—and debate—on design-thinking you didn’t think you needed.

On Background

Why not have a Netflix party? A little known Chrome extension called Netflix Party, which lets Netflix subscribers “watch” a film together, complete with a side chat, is getting a new look. Looking for recommendations? Check out Letterboxd, the social network for film-watchers.
Netflix Party

World-class museums are offering great virtual tours Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with over 2500 museums and galleries around the world, to help them create meaningful experiences with their digital collections, including “street view” walking tours of their facilities. Participating institutions include Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, London’s National Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Here’s the top 10 virtual museums. More below.
Fast Company

Ken Burns is a good sport The filmmaker asked PBS to stream his epic series Baseball for free, “so we can participate in the national pastime together,” he tweeted. “And please look out for those with greater needs. Play ball,” he said.
Baseball on CBS

Tamara El-Waylly produces raceAhead and manages the op-ed program.


"We are all out of doors, and my companions have brought down their mattresses, and are lying along the shade of the east wall, talking quietly and pleasantly; the usual sounds of the workmen on the quays of the town are still, our harbor-guard lies asleep in his boat, the yellow flag of the lazaretto clings to the staff, everything about us breathes tranquility. Prisoner as I am, I would not stir willingly to-day."

Nathaniel P. Willis, an American author visiting Europe whose reporting was interrupted by a quarantine against smallpox, in The New York-Mirror, August 1832.