In December we launched our series on 2022 ideas for Raleigh: How could Raleigh be better for more communities in 2022?
So far these local community leaders and doers to shared their ideas for the future.
This week, I’m weighing in on a topic that touches many people, from small business owners to caregivers to community members who have been overburdened.
Opinion/Editorial By Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen
In 2022, we must prioritize rest, for ourselves and others.
I don’t think any of us expected to be here in early 2022. Omicron’s ripple effects are showing the cracks in our already strained systems.
Local small businesses are struggling with staffing and closures. Caregivers must balance children unexpectedly out of school or childcare for a week or more. And those who show up to work often bear the extra burden of customer expectations.
I didn’t plan to write an essay myself at the beginning of this series. But this vision for our communities in 2022 is both a community and personal goal. It’s something I’ve struggled with throughout the pandemic – and longer, if I’m honest. I’ve prioritized hustle and achievement over rest.
It’s not just rest, but rest and realistic expectations, for ourselves and others. For the last two years, we’ve exhausted ourselves trying to meet pre-pandemic standards of productivity and growth. That pressure could be internal, work- or money-related, at home – or all three.
Too many folks in too many communities to address here experienced already fragile safety nets break. And while I can’t address all pandemic-related issues in this essay alone, I can propose some rest-related solutions to consider together:
Give small businesses a break
During the pandemic, we’ve established that 20% is the floor for tipping folks working in the hospitality industry. We also need to adjust our expectations and our patience. Almost all businesses are working with a smaller staff size.
Among supportive comments, I’ve read grumblings on social media posts from restaurants and businesses about unanticipated closures and different hours. Considering most have a smartphone and eating at a restaurant is a discretionary expense, we should encourage the safety and rest of our neighbors in small businesses over our dining or shopping convenience.
View rest differently
Resting when so much could be done is hard for community organizers, activists and empathetic people. But rest can be a form of resistance, working toward a more just future.
Read this Q&A with Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry, which rejects grind culture and instead sees rest as a tool for Black liberation. To support rest can work toward abolition and justice.
Create better work lives for caregivers
The result of women leaving the workforce on the pandemic, many because of caregiver roles, could affect the gender pay gap for generations. But what if this could be a catalyst to make more jobs caregiver friendly?
That includes making jobs remote when possible, rewarding results versus hours at a desk, businesses partnering with families on caregiving support and solutions. If we treat all jobs for the future as if all workers were caregivers in some form, it could benefit all to rest and prioritize life outside of work.
I believe that Raleigh could be a place for these ideas to happen. It’s a family-friendly city, a place that prioritizes local businesses, and it includes communities working toward justice. And it could start with accepting rest for ourselves and each other. And with that, I’ll do the same.