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DAILY DEBRIEF: Solidarity at Six in Geneva (podcast)

What is Solidarity at Six? Learn about it from Geneva, as Reporter Gabriel Pietrorazio goes behind the frontlines to explore how the idea came to fruition in the midst of a pandemic. Listen to the audio podcast in the player below or scroll down for the full transcript.


You know the old saying it’s five o’clock somewhere? Well, today it’s six o’clock in Geneva.

And no, this is not happy hour. Instead, this is the sound of Solidarity at Six.

Hello, I’m Gabriel Pietrorazio Finger Lakes1 News, and welcome to The Daily Debrief: our show about stories that matter, and, on this edition, we ask what is Solidarity at Six?

And Jodi Dean, an organizer with the Geneva Women’s Assembly explains to us that the daily demonstration extends the community’s gratitude to essential workers while maintaining social distancing practices as sirens are sounding off bursting through the air and shouting and singing fill the silent void from the statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses.

“So, Solidarity at Six is a citywide demonstration, expressing appreciation to all essential workers in Geneva, who are keeping the community going right now during the corona virus. It was started by the Geneva women’s assembly, because we felt like you know, even though we are all isolating these days, it’s important that no one feels alone, that everyone feels like we’re in this together, that we have support and that we still have a community. And so, we needed to figure out what’s the kind of demonstration or action that will let people keep social distance, right and really because we need to keep social distance in order for everyone to remain healthy and safe. So how can we do that? And so that everyone express appreciation for all the essential workers from nurses and doctors, at the hospitals, to the cleaners at the hospitals and explorers to the people manning the stocking the shelves and working in registers at Wegmans, and people in the gas stations and everyone, how can we express this appreciation? And so, we thought, well, let’s do it as a noise demonstration where for five minutes, everyone each day will come to their doors or windows, and either play musical instrument or bank some pots and pans. And just to say to the community, hey, I appreciate what the essential workers are doing for all of us,” Dean said.

For Dean and the rest of the GWA this action is not only a stationary one, Dean shared that residents can also show their support and participate in the action by honking their horns or turning up the stereo radio while driving around the city.

“One of the ways that people are also involved in addition to making noise at their doors and windows is driving around honking their horns. So, let’s say if someone’s leaving work or running an errand, they can still participate, just honk their horn or even roll down their windows and blast their car stereo as loud as possible for a few minutes. It’s always fun, near where I live when we’re all outside, making noise when the cars drive around and start honking,” she stated.

At one point, they even had a band standing six feet apart outside the Geneva General Hospital.

“A group played. I had a kind of safe band where everybody in the band was standing six feet apart as someone did that some percussion and someone else played a flute and someone else played a saxophone expressing solidarity with hospital workers. There also some young bell ringers outside the hospital So that’s been pretty excited,” Dean shared.

For some Solidarity at Six is an equally rewarding experience for those who are recognized for their service, as well as the mobilizing activists.

“Some of the benefits of Solidarity at Six are for people who are participating in the action as much as it is for those who are showing appreciation to set for example, some people are self-isolating all by themselves in their houses, and it can get really, really lonely, particularly if they are online all the time, if they’re not really technologically adept, if they are retired. And so, when they can go out just for five minutes every day and see other people around them kind of playing music or making noise, then it’s like a little lift. It’s like, Oh, you know, I’m not alone. There are other people were there other people here too. We’re in this together. So, there’s a little bit of a lift of feeling like oh, I can see other people that even if it’s just for a second. It’s also been really beneficial to parents with young kids during this time when they’re having to teach kids teach students in high school at home, because it’s not easy to have children in your house. They, you know, particularly if you’re having to do other kinds of work, whether it’s household work or, you know, working online, and so when you can tell the kids, guess what, for five minutes you can make as much noise as you want to give them something to look forward to. So, we are getting a lot of people are sending us photographs that their kids really enjoying, you’re making noise every afternoon. So, these are aspects of helping people who might feel isolated as their social distancing and meaning staying at home, staying in place, and as they are dealing with small children or younger children. They feel like the supportive community, right, they’re not having to deal with this all on their own, and when nurses and other essential workers hear the noise outside the window, they actually also know that the community is coming out and supporting them every day. They’re putting themselves at risk and their families at risk and so, it makes sense that every day we can for at least five minutes go out there and show our appreciation,” Dean said.

Recently, the Village of Newark ratified a similar daily event to acknowledge essential workers at 6 p.m. and Dean accredits the Geneva Women’s Assembly Solidarity at Six for inspiring the village.

“I hope your case it that we work was catching on for us because our first action was we could go doing this for a week now and we’ve had the churches going in St. Peter’s Church in particular has been really great and ringing their bells every day at six o’clock and Geneva Presbyterian also joined in but that’s been really wonderful, just because we’ve got really good community participation here in Geneva,” she stated.

But beyond Geneva and Newark, this action has been linked to other grassroots movements and adopted by organizations down state and seems to keep growing according to Dean.

“I know that different groups in the New York area and in some in particular in the Bronx, have directly linked their solidarity actions with our Solidarity at Six and circulated in social media, their call for Solidarity at Six actions. So, I expect that it’s going to keep growing. Some friends of mine online have been circulating information about our Solidarity at Six down in the Albany area, Naturally brought it to the attention of the head of the New York State nurses union, who is very happy and shows appreciation for all the nurses in the state,” Dean said.

This daily dose of appreciation during these unprecedented times has placed the Geneva Women’s Assembly in the graces of Finger Lakes Health and other local businesses who have praised their efforts, and Dean even mentioned that dedicating each day to someone’s memory makes the action much more memorable.

“I think it’s also meaningful when people participate with someone specific in mind that they are thanking. So, it’s a way of kind of dedicating that day’s protest to a particular person or a particular group,” Dean added.

And in the end, it’s about sticking-it out to flatten the curve, while remaining separated through social distancing, and at the same time, together as one community one Geneva, one New York state, one America, one world together.

“This is a way that people can share their sense that we were a big community. We can strengthen each other our solidarity is strong, and we can stick together and stick it out,” Dean concluded.

I’m Gabriel Pietrorazio FingerLakes1 News.