Zooming with NOSHA
We did a short, unscientific survey in January to find out about the video conferencing habits of our humanist community since the start of the pandemic, and now that we’re on our way to being active again with our vaccinated NOSHA group later this summer, we wanted to reflect on the results.
A LITTLE HISTORY
NOSHA started doing weekly Zoom “check-ins” back in late March 2020 at the suggestion of NOSHA members Joyce and Dave Thomas, our representatives with Together Louisiana, which had encouraged this endeavor for all organizations to reach out their communities in the early part of the pandemic. We continued our “Last Sunday Fikas” and our traditional monthly programs (all virtual) with a nice variety of interesting speakers, some of whom would not have been able to do a program with us easily because they don’t live in the New Orleans area. We’ve had several authors, a musician, activists, and scientists and we’re very grateful for all of them for contributing their personal time to our ongoing success.
Almost 30% of us have been active at least once a week to once a month, and just over 40% were “zooming” two or more times a week. 19% still had rarely done any video conferencing and those of us who do it a lot know that it can be frustrating to say the least. If the audio isn’t working, or your computer doesn’t have a camera, or you simply don’t feel like interacting in that way, then “zooming” may not be for you.
And for anyone who spent (and may still spend) the majority of their work days in video meetings, it is understandable that maybe you would not have wanted to jump on with us or anyone for that matter, but it still looks like a majority of our community was doing something.
Over 65% of the experiences were to visit with family and friends, 53% have participated in group discussions, 47% listened to speakers, and 44% used it professionally. It is gratifying to know that our community stayed as involved as possible on a personal level. AND a majority of the respondents (56%) had attended at least one NOSHA activity via Zoom. Our one concern as humanists should always be for those of us who did feel cut off from society due to social distancing, who may not have been able to connect virtually, and who may still need us even now. After all, we’ve always felt that NOSHA is a place to feel accepted and community is what we have cherished the most over the past 22 years.
One survey response alerted us to something that I had sincerely hoped would not have happened during our video visits (but was always a possibility), was someone who joined and felt unnoticed or not recognized during their participation in our Zoom group visits. As this is complete opposite of what we’ve intended for our virtual social visits, thank you for bringing it to our attention.
I know there were times that we may have sincerely intended to get to everyone and then something probably distracted us from that goal. We will always try to prevent it if we can, of course. We apologize to anyone who didn’t feel they could be part of one of our virtual check-ins. Certainly, we always leave the door open to anyone joining again and we will always aim to do better.
WE’RE NOT SO FAR AWAY
On a positive note, using Zoom has allowed friends who live at a distance to participate in our various conversations and programs which has been an amazing and unexpected joy! We’ve had a local friend who drives a truck for a living who has visited with us several times from his cab many states away. We have a longtime member who lives in Rio de Janeiro who has been part of our weekly check-ins since last spring. We’ve even had total strangers, a woman from Florida and another woman from New York, show up who were curious about our group, but both were “part of our tribe” by the time the conversation ended.
We have had many ‘wow’ moments that make us honored to know all of you who have been part of our virtual world, even for a short time. You have reinforced our belief that NOSHA’s community is full of people who are bright, compassionate, and make the world a better place as we have always expected.
If you would like to keep up with our activities easily, join our Meetup Group!