We usually share traditional summer events around the core in this column—music festivals, art walks, open-air markets, and other gatherings that would involve lots of people coming in close contact with each other—but most of these have been cancelled for the foreseeable future as we grapple with COVID-19. What we’ve also seen in response to this situation is ingenuity, resourcefulness, and a sort of intentionality to connect as a community. In other words, we’re taking it in stride and making the best of a not-so-great situation. So, here’s a list of socially-responsible, physically-distanced events going on in the YEG core this summer.
FOR THE FOODIES
If you miss going out for dinner with your friends, you still can–just at your own kitchen table. #EatWithMeYEG is helping connect Edmontonians while spotlighting local businesses. The group hosts weekly Wednesday lunches (12 to 1 p.m.)—all you have to do is RSVP for the free event, order take-out from a local business in the neighbourhood they are highlighting that week, and then join the teleconference. Each event features local business owners and entrepreneurs and includes an opportunity to talk about how we can support each other. You can keep up with what’s coming up next by following the hashtag on social media or by keeping an eye out on eventbrite.ca.
Another idea is to organize your own virtual party with your buds via FaceTime, conference call, or Zoom. After all, it’s more fun drinking together than alone. Everyone could order from the same local brewery, say, Odd Company Brewing, and then have a howler (or growler, since you won’t be driving) and catch up. OCB is open daily from 12 to 8 p.m. for pick up, and they’re also on the road slinging deliveries from 4 to 9 p.m. Other central breweries still open for your beer needs include Campio Brewing Co. and Brewsters.
CULTURE & CREATIVITY
If you’ve ever wanted to handle a fossil or jump inside a museum diorama, then now’s your opportunity! The Royal Alberta Museum has begun digitizing its collections and sharing them on Sketchfab, an online platform for 3D and VR content. You can get up close like never before by seeing every nook and cranny of their 3D collection. If you have a touch- screen device, the experience is especially unique and engaging. They’ve also got at-home activity suggestions for kids and live shrimp and turtle cams.
The Art Gallery of Alberta is helping bring art to your home with virtual exhibits, live discussions, videos, and more. Visit their website or follow them on social media for their latest offerings.
On that note, if you are looking for the chance to get creative, get some friends together (virtually) to join Kay Rose Creative in weekly Saturday evening painting sessions. Kaylee Rose has taught painting to over 15,000 people, and her art has found its way into the homes of more than 40,000 people across North America in its various forms. You can join her free live painting lessons on Facebook or Instagram at Kay Rose Creative and KayleeRoseWray, respectively. Each Saturday features learning to paint a different animal, so by the time summer is over, you’ll have a full menagerie in your living room.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS
Let’s not forget to talk about our mental health during this time. If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health help, then call Health Link at 811 or Alberta’s Mental Health Help Line toll-free at 1-877-303-2642. Being isolated, especially during a time of crisis, can lead to serious mental health concerns. Try getting involved in virtual events—it’s a way to stay connected while staying physically distanced. Staying connected will help us all maintain our sense of community and bolster our mental health. You can also text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to subscribe to AHS’s Text4Hope program. By subscribing, you’ll receive daily messages of hope, advice, and personal coping skills.
Summer vibes mean market vibes and while they’ve faced some significant changes, as essential providers of fresh and local food products, farmer’s markets in the core are still operating. The 124 Street Grand Market operates on Thursdays and Sundays, and the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays. With physical distancing measures in effect, that means that only so many vendors and shoppers will be allowed in at one time. Customers are encouraged to plan their list and trip out in advance. Get in, support local, get out. Also, designated shopping times will be provided for the elderly and immunocompromised. It also probably wouldn’t hurt to wear a mask and bring your sanitizer if you happen to have some on hand (pun intended).
Many local vendors and restaurants also offer contactless delivery and pick-up. Just shop online and then arrange for a rendezvous either on your doorstep or theirs. Plum Home, Paper Doll Clothing, Table Top Cafe, Normand’s Bistro on Jasper, Remedy Cafe, deVine Wines and Spirits, and Audrey’s Books are just a few local vendors that are trying to make it through this time and could use support if you can give it. You can visit Shop in the Heart and Things That Are Open to find merchants that are open for business.
Just because gyms are closed doesn’t mean that working out isn’t possible. In fact, exercise can be a great source of stress relief during this time. If you want to try out a training program, check out Edmonton-based F.R.E.E. Fitness to find a variety of free courses from personal trainers to help you reach your fitness goals at home. XTherapy Athletics is offering live classes on Instagram every day of the week except for Mondays and Fridays, including HIIT classes and spin classes with limited bike rentals available.
With playgrounds being roped off and sports being cancelled or postponed, our kids are in need of some entertainment. One event that is tackling this challenge head-on is Free Footie TV, which occurs every weekday at 4 p.m. Free Footie is a free after-school sports program that targets kids in need in local communities across the city, including at Grandin Elementary School. However, with school and events being cancelled, they’ve moved their programming to an exclusively online format, with live interviews and training that your kids can take part in from home. Past topics include fitness for families, soccer skills, basketball skills, goalkeeping, and a drumming lesson.
Learning never stops, not even during self-isolation. That’s why Edmonton Public Library is continuing its programming with EPL From Home. Parents will find regular classes like Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn as well as activities like building your own Rube Goldberg Machine, tips on learning a new language, and virtual library tours. You can find content by following Edmonton Public Library on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube or by subscribing to their email newsletter from their website.