Light moments in dark days: Berkeley rallies during a pandemic

“It will be OK.” A makeshift sign has been draped over the pedestrian overpass above I-80 in the hope of raising spirits. Photo: Pete Rosos

We are living in challenging times, but there is ample evidence that our community is pulling together, neighbors are checking on each other and there are ingenious ideas popping up to prevent isolation. The worst of times is bringing out the best in people. 

Some are even talking about “silver linings” — how they’re enjoying spending more meaningful time quarantined at home with their families and their kids and enjoying a slower pace of life; how they have a new-found appreciation for nature; how they are in contact more with relatives, sometimes over video chats; how they know more now about what their kids are learning at school (because many parents are now discovering homeschooling!) and how much their pets are enjoying having their owner around all the time.

Below are just some examples of positive happenings. You’ll find more in a new popup newsletter Berkeleyside is launching this weekend as a way to compile and share with you all of this in one place. We hope you’ll agree that we need reminding of the good in the world right now. The newsletter is called “Best of Times (in the Worst of Times)” and also includes some useful resources and tips for contributing to the community in a positive way. Those of you who subscribe to our existing newsletters will find it in your inboxes this weekend. Sign up here to be sure to receive it.

DANCING IN THE STREETS A group of neighbors had the bright idea of exercising on the (now) empty streets. In the video above you’ll see them getting a good cardio work-out on Beverly Place in North Berkeley on March 18. (Video by Lance Knobel.)


Alex Parker Mooney crocheted this “Coronavirus amigurumi” using a pattern by Claire Olivia on crafting website Ravelry. Photo: Tad Laird

CROCHET CORONAVIRUS Tad Laird shared the photo above and told us the rather wonderful crochet piece that depicts the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses was made by “my soon to be daughter-in-law,” Alex Parker Mooney.


COVID-19 BALLOONS The unconfirmed consensus on Twitter is that the wonderful balloon art shown above was created by PaperPlus, the party store on San Pablo Avenue that has a history of placing balloon art on the avenue’s median — and is one of the many local stores in Berkeley that has been forced to close temporarily due to the shelter-in-place order.


Photo: Laurie Kahn

WINE HOUR WHILE KEEPING A DISTANCE Laurie Kahn, who lives on Benvenue Avenue (at Derby Street), shared the photo, above, of a recent “coronavirus-era” social gathering with the neighbors — but with a twist. The idea: enjoy each other’s company and a glass of wine, but everyone holds onto 6-foot yarn strings to help keep social distance per local directives.


Photo: Courtesy Melody Manhoff

MAKING RAINBOWS To feel connected while under effective quarantine, 510 Families is suggesting families put up a rainbow in their window. They’re calling it the Rainbow Trail and there are already some beautiful examples on 510’s Facebook page (including the one pictured below made by Melody Manhoff and her kids). Go on a walk with your kids and have fun finding them!

Have something to share about how you and your community are coping with the current crisis? Send us a tip, photos and videos and we may include it in our coverage.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder and editorial director at Berkeleyside. Email: tracey@berkeleyside.com.