Economic Resilience,  Teaching powerdown,  Well-being

What to do during virus lockdown

So we’re all in coronavirus lockdown for an undefined period of time. What can we do, to keep from going crazy? What can we do, that soothes the nerves? What can we do to keep our minds occupied?

What can we do, to help us imagine the times that lie ahead, after we get out? What can we do about the devastated economy? What can we do to build the world we dream of?

Here are some ideas:

News sources:

Go on a news-diet. Quit checking the news. Just do it. Now. No matter what news source or social media platform is your go-to, quit checking it so often. It isn’t good for your mental health, your physical stress level, nor your outlook on how to build a new world in the aftermath. I use (free) app blockers on my phone and laptop that only allow me to see those sites for a scant few hours per day. That’s enough time to know what’s going on, what the latest advisories are, and you really don’t need more. Instead, get on with your real life …


Permaculture titles such as: Gardening for the Future of the Earth, by Howard Yana-Shapiro; The Permaculture Home Garden, by Linda Woodrow.

Upbeat climate solutions such as: The Soil will Save Us, by Kristin Ohlson. Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken.

Gardening books such as: Fresh Food from Small Spaces, By R J Ruppenthal. How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible, by John Jeavons. The Herbalist’s Garden, by Shatoiya de la Tour. Creating Sanctuary, by Jessi Bloom. The California Wildlife Habitat Garden, by Nancy Bauer.

Other Resilience-building books: Join me in reading Rob Hopkins’ From What Is to What If. The Toolbox for Sustainable City Living by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew has plenty of ideas for low-impact and no-cost ways of meeting basic needs. The LATimes suggests we read about hygge. You can also work your way through the titles on the old Resilience Library that ECM used to maintain (while the physical library is now distributed elsewhere, the list of great books still remains).

Note that although LA Public Library is closed, they have a huge collection of ebooks that is still available for checkout. Realize that you can access KindleCloud from your regular computer, laptop, tablet or phone — you don’t need a dedicated “kindle” device.

If you are going to buy: Buy ebooks direct from small publishers, or buy physical books from those independent booksellers who are still shipping books. It’s so important to support small business in these times!

Culture, Film, and Entertainment:

Take a Permaculture course (list of free online Permaculture courses)

Environmental films available online: Awakening the Dreamer from Pachamama Alliance. (more coming soon)

Virtual tours of major museums

Virtual concerts and shows: Berlin Philharmonic. Various concerts and Broadway shows (summary list in article)

Old movies, and some audiobooks, are available for free via Hoopla — log in with your LA Public Library card.

It’s a great time to try birdwatching. The Audubon Society has free apps for your smartphone, one of which can help you i.d. a bird with just 5 questions. check out Merlin and iBird.


There is no better time to start gardening, particularly growing food and herbs that you will use. Nurseries are considered “essential businesses,” so many are open during the lockdown. Nearly all the wonderful tiny seed companies that produce the good stuff (signers of the Safe Seed Pledge) are still open and shipping. As far as free seed, stay tuned. The Seed Library of Los Angeles is trying to solve logistics to be able to distribute seed in a safe manner.

If you are living in an apartment or condo, see all the ideas in Fresh Food from Small Spaces, by R J Ruppenthal and The Edible Container Garden by Michael Guerra. Plus, I will soon make excerpts of my book When You Don’t Have Any Land available online.

Gardening gets you exercise and fresh air, and it feels productive. Correct that: it really is productive — at the end, you gain something you can eat. You have nurtured it, you have helped it grow. That sense of accomplishment is huge right now.

Gardened-goods can become “currency.” Many of the things I’ve been growing are useful for barter with people who can access things I can’t access right now.

Handcrafts and kitchen crafts:

Knitting, sewing, carpentry, physical projects that grow your resilience are a great thing to be doing right now. While I’m on phonecalls with family and friends, I’m knitting socks (we always need socks). And my husband is planning to build a Little Free Library out of scrap lumber he has around. If you need to buy supplies, for small mail-able items seek independent producers and small businesses online.

Fermentation: Live fermented foods are a probiotic and prebiotic, which builds the immune system. I’m working with sauerkraut recipes from Sandor Katz (we hosted him at ECM years back) — many recipes from his books have been copied all over the internet. I’m also going to try making a fruit “shrub,” which is an old fashioned way of preserving fruit in vinegar

Herbal tinctures: During the grocery frenzy, when some goods could not be found to purchase, I put up some nettles tincture. Now is a great time to learn this easy skill.

Cooking: Now is the time to get skilled-up on basic recipes that can be made with locally grown veggies (like those you grew yourself) plus a pantry staple or two. The kind of recipes your great grandmother used to make, or that cultures-that-live-closer-to-the-natural-world make. I’m browsing books about southern Italian subsistence cooking.

Food shopping: remember that most of our farmers markets remain open. Farmers markets are a fresh-air activity, where social distancing is easy to achieve. You’ll get super-fresh scrumptious veggies, while supporting our very-most-local food producers, the ones we need to stay in business. (Simply be smart about not touching your face, and wash your veggies with dish soap and water when you get home.)

Flowers: pick a few fresh flowers and pop them in a cute old jar, or start some houseplants. I find it is a tremendous boost to my well-being to have bright plant-friends in the rooms I visit most. Houseplants: Some people grow spider plants outdoors, and you can grab a single spidey to nurture into a plant. (Furtive grabbing of cuttings is a time-honored gardener’s tradition. My great-aunt did it too!)

Reinvent “outbound” systems. Where before this crisis, you probably sent lots of stuff to the landfill, now is a time when you can appreciate the usefulness of what you have already brought into your home/onto your property. Time to acknowledge that our home’s outbound systems should be as diverse and consciously-selected as our inbound (shopping) systems. Those food scraps no longer go down the hole in your sink, they become fodder for worm composting — time to set up your composter. Old clothes become hand-me-downs, potential barter, or they can be used as cleaning rags. Many of those “recycle” plastics and jars could become storage containers, so that you don’t have to buy single-use baggies and gladware — because use-it-once-then-throw-it-away is no way to treat earth resources.

Notice that I’m intentionally not recommending a Kondo clean-out. In depression times, we need those bits of string and random items that we can repurpose into new uses or barter with someone else. Sort them, yes. Pack them more compactly, yes. Pare down enough to eliminate the need for rented storage units, certainly. Perhaps do feng-shui on the nook you’ll be using for an office. But don’t go super-lean and throw out all your stuff right now.


Get outdoors. This is a great time to explore natural spaces around us, walk on the beach, or simply walk in your neighborhood — all while keeping our 6foot spacing. You may actually see other humans you can exchange smiles with!

Bicycling. Go for a bike ride. The streets of LA are dreamland-empty right now, so it is a perfect time to do it! The bike itself helps preserve your 6foot spacing.

Yoga: LiveYogaWellness, located in Westchester next to the Community Garden at Holy Nativity, is offering most of their regular schedule online, including their super-low-cost community classes. Many other yoga studios are offering online content, plus there is plenty on YouTube. Yoga trains us to practice mindfulness at the same time as stretching and getting strength-building and balance-promoting exercise.

Many martial arts studios are putting classes online.

Business, cash-flow, and economics:

The Sharing Solution, by Janelle Orsi, is mostly about the kind of systems we’ll need as we emerge from coronavirus isolation and begin to cope with the ravaged economic scene, but it’s good to read now.

Join a Time Bank. (What is time banking? video.) Many of the exchanges can be completed with appropriate social distancing. Our Time Bank Serves West Los Angeles Neighborhoods including Culver City, Palms, Mar Vista, Venice, Playa Del Rey, Marina Del Rey, Beverly Hills, Century City, Pico-Robertson, Southern Mid-Wilshire, Ladera Heights, Westchester, Inglewood, Santa Monica, and Westwood. For other areas, search this list of time banks.

IttyBiz has put their “Emergency Turnaround Clinic” online for free.

Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau is an enthusiastic guide to starting a tiny business.

Fair & Square by Mike Moyer is about how to form a business agreement between multiple people that is more fair than traditional capitalist models.

Suggestions from other change-makers:

Elizabeth is sewing face masks to donate to the medical profession. With supplies shortages, they’re greatly needed. Here are instructions. Here’s the pattern. Here are the fabric recommendations — cotton tshirts or pillowcases are recommended. Where to donate them? Phone non-emergency numbers at local hospitals, nursing homes, local police, fire, and ambulance companies. If they can’t take them, they probably know who needs them.

LP recommends Insight Timer app (free on iphone and android) which has 24,000 meditations, many of them free.

Jeri is “going through belongings to ‘lighten up’‚ĶSpring cleaning sort of thing.” She also says “walking the neighborhood daily is a great respite from the indoors.”

Julian suggests organizing your recipes electronically using RecipeSage, a free recipe-storage app he created.

Hannah is participating in martial arts classes online.

As of Mar 21, 2020 – the KnittingTreeLA , a Westchester local business, is offering curbside pickup, and they are hosting online knit-and-bitch sessions on Sundays.

I will continue to update this list as I discover more, so check back often. If you want to add your positive suggestions to the list, contact me. And, share this! Tell your friends to check