Dear UUCPA folks,
This week has brought so many reminders of how delicately we balance as we create community.
Since COVID began, we have sought to balance safety and connection. And to make things more nuanced still, safety means not only protection from the virus, but sufficient connection to stave off isolation and its accompanying mental health challenges. At the height of the pandemic, the risk of serious COVID had to outweigh the risks of loneliness, but the balance has shifted as the risk of COVID has lessened.
So at yesterday’s meeting, the COVID Safety Task Force lifted the requirement for outdoor masking. However, while the acute risk from COVID is very low for the vast majority of us (especially since UUCPA has such a high rate of vaccination), county statistics show that fully 30% of people who have had COVID will likely experience some long COVID symptoms, and many of these are serious threats. We don’t want to reap diabetes and heart disease in a few years from a desire to get rid of the masks now, however understandable that desire is. So while we no longer require masks outdoors, we do strongly recommend them, and we will keep requiring them indoors. This may make us an outlier among area organizations, but we’re UUs. We’re used to thinking differently than others, especially where science is concerned.
Another balancing act: UUCPA strives to be physically accessible to everyone, with a T-loop for hearing assistance, closed captioning, Braille hymnals, and buildings at ground level. In the few places where a ramp is needed for people on wheels to enter a room, we have one. But the front entrance to the Main Hall requires a longer ramp than most, and the one we have in place has proven to be a trip hazard. What should we do to make the Main Hall accessible to everyone, safely?
The balance struck in this case is that we are removing the temporary ramp while we talk to our architect, Karin Payson, and her accessibility consultant. With the vote last week, we are moving ahead with the exciting Campus Vision project, and as Ms. Payson and her consultants gather community input and assess our campus, they’ll have ideas about how we can best make it accessible to all, as well as energy-efficient, useful for all our needs, and beautiful. No doubt they will have a permanent ramp proposal for us that will not put people at risk of falling. In the meantime, those who come to UUCPA in wheelchairs or scooters will be welcomed in via the patio-side door, where no ramp is needed. It is an imperfect solution–ideally, everyone should be able to come in the front doors–but it balances everyone’s needs for the moment.
We had a fall in the parking lot near the kitchen as well last week, and this too presents a tricky balancing act. The trip hazard in that case was a wheelstop. Obviously, these keep cars from overshooting their parking spots–very important for safety! But when we’re walking through the parking lot, it’s a different matter. The Buildings & Grounds Committee is looking into possible solutions. This problem may not have any better resolution than the advice to keep to the sidewalks if you’re walking, but they’ll look at all possibilities.