Add Some Colour to Your Mother’s Day

Family is Important

Traditionally, a family consisted of a mother, father, and children. Many families still do! But the definition of “family” has expanded to include all sorts of combinations, traditional or not. You may have noticed the IA has started addressing the membership (one type of family) as “Brothers, Sisters, Kin”. That’s because our leadership is aware of and in support of the changing societal landscape of families. Love is love is love.

With that in mind, and as a means of promoting a little fun and creativity, Local 26 is pleased to present to you Mother’s Day colouring pages! There are mothers who gave birth, adopted, fostered, made a difference in someone’s life, and/or served as a role model. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours, religions, genders, and nationalities. They may not even know you feel about them the way you do. What a perfect time to let them know, and without having to head out to a store or buy overpriced flowers!

 

Fun and a Way to Relieve Stress

Thanks to Jess Westra (First Vice-President and Chair of the Education and Safety Committee as well as wearing a whole host of other hats at various times), here you’ll find printable PDF colouring pages, ranging from toddler easy to grownup difficult, all with the same basic message: Thank you for who you are, what you do, and everything you mean to me. Make one for whoever in your life has filled the role of “Mom” for you, and have fun doing it. Something handmade means more than buying something because you have to. It means you care enough to spend a bit of time creating something just for them.

Couldn’t we all use a bit of happy about now? Check out the black and white images below, print your favourites (or all of them, why not?), and grab your crayons, coloured pencils, markers… whatever you prefer. Create something for a special person and share the happy. You won’t regret it, and you’ll end up making someone’s day!

We’d love to see your creations! Upload to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and use #IA26MothersDay to spread the love even further.

What are you waiting for? Get Colouring!

Also, and you knew I was going to say it… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Need Some Help Managing Your Stress and/or Depression?

One of the most important things to monitor during times of uncertainty and stress is your mental health. I know I’ve talked about this repeatedly, but it really is so very important. Your mental health can directly affect your physical health, and from there it’s a quick slide down a greased chute to some pretty serious problems.

Many people who never before suffered from depression or anxiety are exhibiting symptoms since COVID-19 became widespread. There is no precedent, there is no certainty, there are no good answers, no one knows what will come next or how long it will last, and it’s anybody’s guess when someone might develop a vaccine so we can maybe return to normal life. Those who already suffered from depression or anxiety or both are often even worse off since the current situation exacerbates their existing condition. Add to that most of us can’t see our doctors and are worried about keeping health insurance so we can when we’re allowed, and it’s a recipe for what seems to be certain disaster.

That can be true, but it does NOT have to be. The insurance worry has been alleviated for those covered under the IATSE Heath and Welfare plans, at least for the second and third quarters, and possibly for the fourth as well once we get closer. Unemployment, while it doesn’t cover everyone, eases a bit of the financial pressure for a while. And say what you will about the federal stimulus checks, they certainly came in handy for a great number of people.

For me personally, my therapist has been holding video sessions through a secure app, so we can continue as normal. But until unemployment got sorted out, I was afraid to go deeper in debt and I missed an entire month of weekly sessions, which made my already existing depression and anxiety exponentially worse. So I get it. I know where you’re coming from, and I understand how debilitating it can be. There were days I didn’t move off my couch even to eat. There are still frequently days when I sleep for upwards of 15 hours at a stretch. Mental illness, whether temporary or not, is no joke.

It’s not hopeless!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is NOT a train! There are multiple things you can do even without a therapist to get yourself out of a depressive cycle that are surprisingly easy. Not everything works for everyone, so I’m going to get into a few different things in hopes all of you will find something that appeals to you.

The food you eat directly affects how you feel

There are several foods highly recommended for dealing with stress. I know a lot of us have been snacking and eating comfort food and generally not being at all healthy, and it’s taking a toll on our mental health. Foods that combat stress that actually work are things like herbal teas, whole grains, avocados, fish, nuts, citrus fruits, berries, foods high in fiber and probiotics, and even dark chocolate! Eating healthy in general can help us feel better, but these things in particular top the list for those with stress and anxiety. If you want comfort food, go for a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries instead of a pan of macaroni and cheese. If you want something sweet, make it dark chocolate. Both your body and mind will thank you for it.

Many of the same foods recommended to alleviate anxiety are also recommended to ease depression. It makes sense as the two often go hand in hand, but there are some additional foods that are specifically shown to help with depression.

Foods high in Selenium: whole grains, organ meats, and some seafood. Foods high in Vitamin D: fortified dairy products, oily fish, eggs, and beef liver. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids: chia and flax seeds, cold water fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), and walnuts. Foods high in antioxidants: berries, soy, most fresh fruits and vegetables, and pretty much any edible plant product. Foods high in B vitamins: eggs, poultry, oysters, milk, whole grains, nuts, dark leafy vegetables, and beans. Foods high in protein: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tuna, and turkey. Foods high in Zinc: nuts, pumpkin seeds, beef, poultry, pork, oysters, and whole grains. And of course foods with probiotics like yogurt.

There are also some foods you should definitely avoid if you’re prone to depression. Alcohol, junk food, fast food, processed foods and oils, caffeine (which seems counter-intuitive, but that’s because most people overdo it instead of consuming it in moderation). These things can make your depression worse without you even realizing it.

Practicing mindfulness can help in many different ways

Every time I hear “mindfulness” I automatically translate it to “meditation”. While meditation is one thing you can do, it is by no means the only thing. There are probably a lot of you, like me, who find it impossible to meditate, and that’s OK! Try some other things instead. Did you know there is a whole section on LinkedIn Learning full of classes both short and long on different ways to practice mindfulness? Since all IATSE workers (members or not) are eligible for a free subscription to LinkedIn Learning, why not check it out? An easy, online application is available through the IATSE Training Trust Fund.

An organization called simply Mindful offers a list of five simple mindfulness practices for your everyday life, all of which can continue to be helpful even after this particular crisis is over. PsychCentral has some simple 1-minute mindfulness exercises as well, many of which I’ve been using for quite a while without knowing they were actually a thing. Any or all of the things you’ll find at any of these sources (and this is just a sample, there are plenty more online) can help you get through tough times, and with such a wide variety of options there is something for everyone.

Colouring!

Recently there has been an incredible upsurge in adult colouring books and printable sheets as people realize the simple joy of creating something pretty can ease incredible amounts of stress. Whether you choose complicated designs or prefer a children’s colouring book, there is something about taking a black and white outline and making it uniquely yours that is soothing. Plus, you then have something pretty you could hang up if you want! There are of course hundreds of colouring books you can buy, but several websites are offering free printable sheets as well if you just want to get your feet wet without spending a lot of money.

For example, Crayola has several different types of printable pages, all free, ranging from simple to difficult. A website called fittingly enough Just Color has 1500+ different designs you can print for free and colour as you wish. And one a friend just showed me the other day is World Wildlife Fund, which doesn’t have a lot of sheets, but the ones they do have are beautiful. Again, this is just a representative sample… there are hundreds of sites offering free printable colouring sheets.

I won’t link to any because I try to keep family-friendly, but there are also a large number of “sweary” colouring books for adults. I just bought one that is a snarky, cursing holiday theme. There are many others, some of them better than others.

Tips for reducing anxiety and stress

All of the above things are excellent ways to reduce your stress, depression, and anxiety. But I want to recap and add a few more, just to show there are almost endless options. The best part about that is you should be able to easily find something that works for you. Not everyone is the same, not everyone suffers the same, and not everyone can find relief the same.

Going back to PsychCentral, they have assembled a quick list entitled 9 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Right Here, Right Now. They may work for you, they may not. Personally, I find the very first one the most helpful: Take a deep breath. It forces you to stop for a second, which often interrupts the flow of panic. It’s also a lovely way to relax enough to fall asleep. If you’re an Android user, there is an app called Sleeping Pill I’ve found to be very helpful at night.

Psychology Today has put together a list of 21 tips they claim can “Change Your Anxiety Forever”. I don’t know about forever, but immediate relief certainly isn’t all bad. And if it does last forever, great! You’ll find some of the same things here that are in the PsychCentral article, but several more as well.

I’m going to add one of my own, that I’ve been doing for about six years now. At the end of every day, I find three positive things that happened that day. I call them “Today’s Positives”, and I post them on Facebook as a way of keeping myself accountable for doing it. When I first started it was like pulling teeth, and I more than once fell back on, “I have a home, I have clothes, and I have food.” But as time goes by, you retrain your brain to look for the good instead of the bad. There are some days I write entirely too many things. There are still days when I’m having a hard time that I keep it to the bare minimum. But it’s a thing recommended by therapists and other medical professionals, and it really does work.

In conclusion

With any luck at all, you’ve been able to find something in this post that can help you. Additionally, don’t forget about the resources and partnerships the IATSE has made available to you, such as the peer-to-peer chat app Be Scene – Be Heard and the Entertainment Industry Therapist Finder. Also of use is the Self-Assessment Tool put together by Behind the Scenes as a way to help you figure out with what aspect of your mental health you most need help. I would be remiss if I did not also mention IATSE C.A.R.E.S., specifically created to “provide support to our most at-risk, elderly, and/or disabled members during the COVID-19 crisis”.

I’m also going to include some toll-free phone numbers here.

  • The Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
  • National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1- 800-799-7233.
  • Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)
  • Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
  • Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741
  • National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255
  • GLBT Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
  • The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678 (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)
  • Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741
  • The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 422-4453
  • Rape, Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN): (800) 656-HOPE

We are all in this together, but we are all at different places mentally, financially, and physically. Please don’t feel you are alone, and please don’t feel you just need to “tough it out”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… THERE IS NO SHAME IN NEEDING HELP. Reach out. There is help available, a lot of it for free. Don’t try to go it alone; there’s no need. Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I’d like to see all of you when we are finally back to work!

Now, what do we say?

Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

BTS Launches New Peer-to-Peer Chat App “Be Scene – Be Heard”

This one is not written by me at all… I received an email and am simply copying and pasting the information here. Please make sure you take care of your mental health in addition to social distancing and avoiding unnecessary trips out of the house!

As always… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME! And always remember to wash your hands.

As part of our goal to help you look after your mental health and well being we are pleased to announce Be Scene – Be Heard, a 24/7/365 anonymous, peer-to-peer chat app for those who work behind the scenes.

It’s often hard to talk with family and friends about how you’re feeling and what may be troubling you, but you might not feel quite ready to see a mental health professional. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to people who don’t know you, but who can relate because they’re in this industry too. They get the crazy hours, the pressures of getting the show on every night or the right shot on set, and the void felt when the gig is over.

That’s why we’ve partnered with iRel8 to launch Be Scene – Be Heard. A platform to interact with your peers, talk about what’s on your mind, find comfort and knowledge from one another, and, perhaps, offer insight to someone who is going through something you already have. Chats are instantly translatable into 54 languages. Wherever you are, Whenever you need it, for Whatever is on your mind.

Signing up for the Be Scene – Be Heard App is easy! All you need is a real email address to get started, regardless of whether or not it identifies you. To show appreciation for helping steer our efforts by participating in the survey, we’re pleased to offer you a special promotion. The first 300 people that sign up will receive free access through July 2020, after which the cost is just $0.99 a month – a less than $12 a year investment in your mental wellness. Sign up today at  https://irel8.org/behind-the-scenes-irel8-special-offer.

To start you will find a “room” for general conversation and one for industry resources. As participation grows, sub-groups will be formed for more focused discussion on topics such as depression, sobriety, women in the industry, LGBTQ+, etc. Participants will be able to create their own groups as they see fit (i.e. wardrobe, riggers, gaffers, etc.) and conduct one-on-one chats within the app, giving you the ability to create and tailor your own safe spaces.

While Be Scene – Be Heard is a great way to find and lend peer to peer support, it not a crisis hot line. If you or someone you care about is in danger of harming yourself or someone else you should call 911 or reach out to one of the 24/7/365 resources at btshelp.org/resources.

So many of you expressed a desire to assist with the mental health initiative, we need your help here to create a true online community for our industry to turn to, ask for, or provide assistance, insight, comfort, and support. Please join us today and Be Scene – Be Heard!

Sign up today at  https://irel8.org/behind-the-scenes-irel8-special-offer.

The Behind the Scenes Mental Health Steering Committee

Homeschooling Can be Fun… Honest!

Obviously many of you did not choose homeschooling, and now here you are. Yes, a great number of schools are holding class via Zoom or other software, and of course schools sent work home with the kids that they’re supposed to do while they’re home. I can’t help you figure out New Math, and I certainly can’t tell you to ignore the requirements you’ve been given for your child.

What I can do, however, is show you ways to think outside the box so you can not only teach your kids valuable things, but also get things done around your house. Everybody wins!

Take cooking, for example. Cooking is math, and it’s also reading comprehension. There are fractions all over the place in cooking! Depending on the age of your kids, you could have them choose a recipe and make it (with supervision). Another fun one is to have your kids think of something they love to eat, and then write a recipe how to make it. If you’ve got more than one kid, have them exchange recipes and try to make food following them as written. Explain to them how fractions work, and convert cups to ounces, etc. Not only did you teach them something, you also get a meal out of it!

Laundry. Since I do a great deal of laundry for shows, I pretty frequently hear, “it’s just laundry, how hard can it be?” I admit, it’s not hard. You just have to follow the rules and you’ll be fine. Now is a lovely time to have your kids start doing their own laundry! Have them read the tags, separate items appropriately, and wash and dry them how they’re supposed to. If your kids are old enough, teach them to iron! These are valuable life skills, and an astonishing number of people don’t know how to do them.

Cleaning! Cleaning can be science. Explain what different cleaning chemicals do, which ones can be mixed, which ones should never be mixed, and how much to use for any given project. Make sure they’re aware of those that should only be used in a well-ventilated area and those that require protective clothing, and why. Look up how much bacteria can live on various surfaces and how long it can live if left alone. Also, while I’m sure you have, make sure they know the proper way to wash their hands and for how long.

Washing dishes. Many of you I’m sure have a dishwasher, and that’s fine. But you can teach them how to scrape and rinse. How to sort. How to be safe when handling sharp knives. How to load a dishwasher properly. They can also dry and put away dishes, which will help when you have them start cooking more.

Yard work? Why not? I’m having to stretch a little here, but… Any leaves left in your yard will have started to break down by now, and new leaves should be budding. Circle of life! If you’re going to garden, have them help choose what plants, where to put them, which ones work well next to one another (and which ones do not), and ways to protect them from pests. You don’t have to have a yard for a garden, just an outdoor space where you can put some pots. Watching something go from a seed to something on their dinner plate is a good way to teach your kids to appreciate the work that goes into feeding everyone, and it’s also more likely they’ll eat healthier if they grow it themselves. Additionally, being tasked with taking care of a garden teaches them responsibility.

If you’ve got a yard, or can get to an outdoor space, learn about the various plants, flowers, and trees. Plan a daily walk around your neighbourhood, and maybe change up which ways you go so you see different things. Find a safe place to watch any construction going on and see how that works.

Play games! It’s not all drudgery. Many kids’ games are already geared toward teaching them in a fun way so they don’t even notice they’re learning. Anything with dice and pieces to move teaches numbers and counting. There are numerous memory games to keep their brains active. Some games help with spelling, others with math, and all of them with teaching patience, waiting your turn, and following rules.

Read to them. I assume as good parents you already are, but reading to your children is a great way to spark their imaginations. It’s also what I’ve always called travelling in my mind, as books take you places you can’t go right now. If your kids are older, have them read books themselves and then discuss with them what they’ve read. It’ll get your kids talking to you, and you’ll get some insight into how their brains work, both from the books they choose and how they interpret them.

You know your kids best, and now is your opportunity to let them learn how they want to. If your child loves to draw, let them draw! If they play a musical instrument, have them practice daily. You can have them put on shows, or write their own stories, or create their own games. Whatever your child loves to do, encourage them. School at home does not have to follow the strict guidelines of school at school.

The world will not end if your child is bored. They may think so, and they may make you feel like it with their whining, but it’s really not so bad. Some of my most creative projects have come when I’m bored, because all I have to think about is something to do. When I was little I used to spend hours sorting the buttons in my grandma’s button can. I’d sort beads, coins, anything like that. If they’re bored, DON’T let them watch TV or pick up a video game. They’ll figure something out.*

*I do not know your children. If yours are the type to invent new ways to blow something up or otherwise wreak havoc on your house, maybe letting them get too bored is a bad idea. I can only make general suggestions.

Have them keep a journal. I’ve seen this recommended for all of us. It seems counter-intuitive at a time when we’re “not doing anything”, but it’s a good time to write about your life, your hopes and dreams, how you’re handling what’s going on. Keep track of what you do every day, the feelings you have, fears, triumphs, and anything else you want. Not only is writing good practice for developing language, spelling, and grammar skills, but it’s a good way to take things that seem overwhelming and put them in a form where they can be dealt with. Share your journals and talk about the things in them. Your kids may surprise you.

Related to a journal, this is a thing I’ve been doing for years, and it helps my mental well-being. At the end of every day, find three positive things that happened, and write them down. They don’t have to be huge, earthshattering things, just good things that happened that day. Have everyone in the family make their list just before bedtime, and then share with each other. Not only will you all have to think of good things instead of dwelling on bad, but you’ll see what your family members find positive as well. And then you can work on doing more of those things, if it’s possible.

This is a big one. Don’t try to make your kid do school at home for the same number of hours they do school at school. Set a timer when you start a lesson. When it goes off, take a break. Do some jumping jacks. Take a walk. Have a snack. Do any kind of exercise. Play Simon Says. Have them walk the dog. Anything to keep it interesting and to break up the monotony for them. They’ll come back more able to concentrate on the next lesson.

Remember, anything can teach you something. Challenge your kids, and challenge yourself. Read books a bit above their normal level. Do puzzles that are a little harder than usual. Come up with a photography challenge. Create your own word searches or scavenger hunts. While you’re on your daily walk, see how many things you can find that start with a certain letter. The possibilities are endless, and not all of them are found in a textbook.

Having said that… Please also make sure your kids do work as assigned by their teachers and schools. Creating your own curriculum is great, but they’ll still need to be in the same place as their peers when they do finally go back to school. Just make it fun. Your kids will appreciate it.

Now, what do we say?

Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Explore the World from your Couch

Here we all are, stuck in our homes. Sure, there’s cleaning to be done, purging of closets can happen, and of course there’s always laundry. But sometimes you need to take a break, and being the creative types we are sometimes we’d rather do something interesting (or even educational) instead of binge-watching yet another season of whatever show. Of course most (if not all) museums, aquariums, zoos, and theme parks are closed, but a great number of them are offering free virtual tours and live streams, from all around the world.

Pro tip: If you’re trying to come up with ways to educate and entertain your children, most of the things in this post count.

There are a LOT more museums offering virtual tours than what I’m listing here. I just wanted to give you an example of what’s out there.

The Louvre; a place most of us will probably not get a chance to go in person, but is world famous for a reason.

The Guggenheim; even if you’ve been there and/or plan to go, it’s worth seeing again.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History; one of my favourite places since the first time I went as a child.

The Vatican Museum; religious or not, Catholic or not, there is some incredible artwork to be seen.

Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology; a fantastic exploration of our neighbour to the south.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art; another place you can visit repeatedly and still find something new.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); while perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, what you’ll find is always interesting.

Many of the above links have additional links to similar tours or other tours of the same facility. I encourage you to check them all out!

Aquariums! If you’re one of those people who turn into a child when you see aquariums, then by all means explore every single one of these and also anywhere else they may send you. Some have dedicated webcams on certain tanks, so you can choose your favourite sea creature to watch. I could spend hours with stingrays!

Monterey Bay Aquarium; hands down my number one aquarium in the country, with live cams on a number of different tanks.

The Shedd Aquarium; my second choice, and a place I’ve been numerous times but am always willing to return. They have a YouTube series I love, and if you haven’t seen their video of penguins visiting other animals during the shutdown, you must!

The Georgia Aquarium; I haven’t yet made it here, but I hear good things from friends who have.

The National Aquarium; I was fortunate enough to tour this one shortly after it opened. It was my first aquarium visit, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Zoos! What a lovely way to see animals in person you would otherwise never get a chance to be near. Of course, these webcams and virtual tours will not put you there in person, but they will let you see a lot of neat stuff.

The Houston Zoo; pretty much every website I sought to find virtual zoo tours had the Houston Zoo listed first, and with good reason. It’s pretty neat!

The San Diego Zoo; if Houston wasn’t listed first, then San Diego was. Pick your favourite animal and off you go!

Zoo BRNO; with dozens of animals to choose from, you won’t be bored with this Czech Republic zoo.

The Virginia Zoo doesn’t just offer virtual tours and webcams. They’ve got all sorts of activities, a YouTube channel, and a blog where you can learn a bunch of interesting things.

The Cape May Zoo; is offering virtual zoo school! You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it; the whole family can learn together.

You can’t go very far on the internet without running into some sort of nature webcam or another. I just picked some of the ones I found neat to highlight.

Northern Lights; do I really need to explain why you’d want to watch this?

Galapagos Islands; a place I’ve been fascinated with since childhood, and even more so since my nephew went there on a high school trip.

While there are a number US National Parks with webcams, I’m particularly fond of Katmai National Park in Alaska.

Since we’re on National Parks, I would be remiss not to include Yellowstone.

The Great Barrier Reef is another one I could lose several hours watching.

When I was very small, my grandparents went to the Great Wall of China, and I didn’t understand how amazing a structure it is, especially considering its age.

The Gardens of Versailles have been gorgeous since the mid-1600s. Not only are they beautiful, but they are steeped in history.

For our final section, I’m going to focus on cities, theme parks, and other interesting places. I’m particularly excited about the last two, and have “toured” them more than once already.

Walt Disney World has several different tours, along with some virtual rides.

LegoLand Florida is offering a virtual tour of their hotel while they’re closed, and now I really want to stay there.

Seaworld Orlando has jumped on the bandwagon as well, offering a virtual tour of their entire park.

WorldCams has live webcams from numerous cities around the world. Some of them are eerily disturbing (the Las Vegas Strip leaps to mind) due to quarantines and stay at home orders, but it’s still neat to take a little vacation in your mind.

And now we come to my two favourites, both on my short list of vacation destinations…

The Winchester Mystery House is fascinating purely for its architecture, but throw in ghosts and I’m there.

The Catacombs of Paris can’t help but be haunted, right? Also timely, considering they were created due to a major health crisis.

If you can’t find something in this post to catch your interest, I’m not sure what to tell you. I’ve whiled away probably more hours than I should virtually visiting places I’ll probably never see in person, and it’s been fabulous!

Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Cleaning and Disinfecting for COVID-19

By now we all know that to keep ourselves safe the best thing we can do is wash our hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. What about everything else, though? Since we’re all going to be home for a while, we might as well all learn how to clean and disinfect properly for COVID-19. While no one knows everything there is to know about Coronavirus, current evidence suggests it can live on some surfaces for hours or even up to days. For example: aerosols up to three hours; copper up to four hours; cardboard up to 24 hours; plastic and stainless steel up to two or three days.

These recommendations come from the CDC, so they’re infinitely more reliable than your cousin’s girlfriend’s brother’s best friend’s forward of an email he got from his stepmother’s sister-in-law, or anything you see on Facebook.

First, make sure you’re wearing gloves that are designed to protect your hands from germs. Ideally these would be disposable, but if you need to use reusable gloves make sure you have a dedicated pair ONLY for COVID-19 cleaning purposes. Clean your hands immediately after you remove your gloves! Remember the warm water + at least 20-second rule.

If the surface you need to disinfect is also dirty, wash it with warm soapy water first. Any dirt on a surface will interfere with disinfecting.

As to what you should use to disinfect, there are options (assuming you have things already or the hoarders have not decimated the supply). Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants, and diluted bleach solutions are best. For a bleach solution, the proper ratio is either 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. DO NOT MIX BLEACH WITH ANY OTHER HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS. More is not better. In this case, more can kill you. Also, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area when using a bleach solution (and if it is recommended on any commercial disinfectant you are using).

Obviously those are not practical for clothing or other soft, porous surfaces, especially those that could be harmed by bleach. For carpet, drapes, rugs, etc. wear gloves, remove any visible contamination, and then follow with the appropriate cleaners for the item. If possible, launder items in the warmest water possible and let dry completely. If laundering is not an option, you should use products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims on them.

For clothing, linens, etc. that you would normally launder, again wear gloves! Do not shake your dirty laundry, as that could cause the virus to spread. Launder items according to their instructions, in the warmest water possible, then dry completely. After you remove the dirty laundry from hampers, baskets, etc., they need to be disinfected as well. If possible, line any containers used for dirty laundry with either a washable liner or a disposable one to help keep the virus contained. And of course, when you’re done touching laundry, wash your hands!

Here’s a thing I didn’t know… Obviously you’re supposed to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds, and if that is not available then use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. But here’s the catch: If your hands are dirty, you MUST wash them with warm soapy water. It makes sense! If a dirty surface cannot be disinfected, then neither can dirty hands.

If you have someone in your home who is sick, make sure you have as little contact as possible with them. Let them eat separately and use either disposable dishes/flatware or handle non-disposable plates and flatware with gloved hands only. Make sure any dishes/utensils used by a sick person are washed immediately in hot soapy water or a dishwasher. Their trash should also have a dedicated container of its own, ideally lined with a disposable bag. Wear gloves when dealing with their trash in any way and consider contacting your local health department for guidelines on trash disposal. If someone in your house has tested positive for COVID-19, it is safe to wash their clothes with those of other household members using the above guidelines. Wash your hands after you remove your gloves!

Whether someone is sick or not, you should clean frequently touched surfaces as frequently as you touch them. Doorknobs, light switches, microwave keypads, toilets, sinks, faucets, drawer handles, computer keyboards, smartphones, TV remotes… anything you and/or your family touches frequently should be wiped down with warm soapy water or cleaned with a bleach wipe (or diluted bleach solution) on a regular basis.

Current knowledge is that COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, especially when those land on another person. Your first, best line of defense is to wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and keep at least six feet away from other people. But disinfecting your surfaces can’t be a bad idea, especially if someone in your house is sick or you’ve been exposed to someone who is sick.

Be safe. Be well. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Stay Home, Stay Safe

As of 12:01 this morning, Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order took effect. Most people refer to the situation as “Shelter in Place”, which we’ve been hearing in the news for days now. These are not the same thing! “Stay at Home” closes non-essential businesses and limits gatherings to 10 or less people. “Shelter in Place” means stay home unless it’s critically necessary you leave. In this post, I’ll try to explain exactly what you can and cannot do under the order for the next three weeks. In future posts, I’ll explore more things you can do to pass the time while you’re staying home.

First, the order states “individuals may only leave their home or place of residence under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when they do so, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.”

Great! What are the circumstances?

“All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons outside a single household are temporarily prohibited. People may leave the house to perform for limited, necessary purposes, and may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders.”

Please stop! What does that MEAN?!? I know. It’s hard. Let me try to explain.

You CAN: Go for walks, hikes, bicycle/motorcycle/car rides. Yard work is perfectly acceptable. Please, walk your dog, and if your pet needs a vet visit take them! Picking up prescriptions is fine, but it’s best if you choose the drive thru. Picking up food or having it delivered is also fine. If you need gas, go get some. Grocery shopping is fine, but if you can arrange for curbside pickup that seems best (personal note here: NO HOARDING). If you or a loved one needs medical attention, by all means go to the hospital or a med center! Only caveat is always to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people if you can. And the usual rules apply: cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, etc.

You CANNOT: Get together with people who don’t live in your house (or who aren’t staying there for the duration). Take public transit unless your job is considered “essential” and you have no other way to get there. Keep your business open unless it is a grocery store, pharmacy, medical center, or other similar important type. Throw a party. Arrange play dates for your kids. Have a meeting in person. Go to your friend’s house or have them over to yours.

Under this order all businesses are prohibited from requiring their workers leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain life or conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses must ensure those workers who are crucial be kept at least six feet apart and are able to practice other social distancing measures.

Who will be working?

“Critical infrastructure workers” are the ONLY ones who will still be working. That means those who work in health care/public health; law enforcement, public safety, and first responders; food and agriculture; energy; water and wastewater; transportation and logistics; public works; communications and IT, including news media; other community-based government operations and essential functions; critical manufacturing; hazardous materials handling; financial services; chemical supply chains and safety; defense industrial base; child care workers, designated suppliers and distribution centers; insurance workers (unless they can work from home); organizations who provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for needy individuals.

Put shortly: You can go to the hospital or a medical center. You can go to the pharmacy. You can go to the grocery store. Your utilities will continue to work. There will be TV, and there will be radio. The government has not shut down, although non-essential parts have temporarily closed.

While we are not under “shelter in place” and we are not under “quarantine”, if it is at all possible for you to behave as if you are, this may well last a shorter time than hoped. If you don’t need to leave your property, don’t do it! If you do leave, keep your distance from people! If we all work together to flatten the curve, the curve will have no choice but to flatten. And when it finally does, then we can start getting back to normal.

Final thoughts

Please don’t be that guy. You know the guy. “Nobody’s gonna tell me I can’t go (wherever)!”

Yes, they are. They can. They have. Stay home. All you’re doing is extending how long this goes on. If you play by the rules instead, three weeks may well be the end of it. Who knows, she may even rescind the order early if we all do as we’re told! But let’s not do anything to extend it further, OK?

Michigan is currently in the top five US States for number of confirmed COVID-19 infections. This is NOT an honour we ever wanted, we don’t want to keep it, and we certainly don’t want to go any higher on the list!

Symptoms and What to do about them

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is:

  • If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus

Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Potential Outside Work Sources

There are times in life when you have to face facts and do something you’d rather not just to make sure you get through. We in the entertainment industry have certainly weathered some tough times throughout history be it fighting for the right to organize or putting our lives and livelihoods at risk organizing when companies were hiring strikebreakers to do our jobs while we walked the line. We’ve seen wars, we’ve seen economic collapse, we’ve seen full-blown depressions. We have always made it out the other side.

What we haven’t always done, however, was make it through by continuing to work in the entertainment industry. When gatherings of over 50 people were forbidden our industry came to a screeching halt, leaving uncertainty, worry, and unemployment in its wake. We all decided to wait and see for a bit, hoping maybe it wouldn’t last long. Then we all decided to apply for unemployment benefits, because that money is there for just this occasion.

It may not be enough. With Broadway now seriously considering staying closed until May or June, we may have to consider other avenues of employment whether we like it or not. Unemployment benefits, while extended, will not last forever. Meanwhile, we all have bills. We all need to eat. Even with staying home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19, there are things we need to do. We also must realize even when the industry starts back up it’ll be slow going, and especially for those lower on our seniority list it may be months before we’re back to work normally again.

The last week or so I’ve been posting places to go for food, things to do so you don’t go stir-crazy, and ways you can help others if you’re so inclined. Today I’m going to focus on companies in West Michigan who are currently hiring. A lot of it may be temporary work, but temporary is better than nothing, and with any luck at it will last until Local 26 can start referring you for work again.

First: Retail. Probably not small local stores, as they are either shutting down or running with a skeleton crew since this is hitting them hard as well. But did you know Meijer is currently hiring cashiers, stockers, and other positions? I single out Meijer specifically because the workers there are represented by UFCW Local 951. Not only do they enjoy regular union representation, but during this crisis Local 951 has negotiated an extra $2.00 per hour for Meijer employees. As I am not privy to the actual CBA I have no idea who/what positions are represented, but potential union representation is always better than not.

UFCW Local 951 also represents employees at: Harding’s, JLL, Grandville Nut Roasting Co., JBS, Knouse, Kroger, Meijer, Hallmark Living Sonova Benton Harbor, LM Foods, Polly’s and Rite Aid, among other places throughout West Michigan.

I’m going to highlight some jobs I’ve found online, in no particular order and with no endorsement of any of the companies mentioned by Local 26. These are simply jobs from Indeed.com that seem suited to our referents’ skills that could help them through this. This is by no means a comprehensive list of available jobs, nor does it compile information from all sources. Please continue to search on your own as well!

Full Time Substitute Custodian -Grand Rapids, MI

Hi-Tec Building Services

Offering $15/hour, full time job. This position requires travel throughout West Michigan, but they do reimburse for mileage at 25 cents/mile. This one is marked “urgently hiring”.

Hi / Lo Driver (001)

Hope Network

The listing does not mention a rate of pay or if it’s full- or part-time, but the description says they require a high school diploma, experience in a production setting, experience with a Hi-Lo, experience with QS9000 and AIB Standards, and experience in computer data entry.

Painter

Vork Brother Painting LLC – Grand Rapids, MI

No rate of pay mentioned here as well, but it is full time work. They require experience in interior and exterior painting work, comfortable with ladder work, flexible schedule, highly motivated, and an outgoing personality. This one, while listed on Indeed, requires you apply on their company site: https://recruiting.paylocity.com/recruiting/jobs/Details/259314/Vork-Brother-Painting-LLC/Painter

Warehouse Clerk, Relief Delivery Driver

Besco Water Treatment, Inc. – Kentwood, MI 49512

$15 – $18 an hour

This position requires a chauffeur’s license, D.O.T. med card, and provision of MVR.They also require at least 1 year driving/delivery experience, and prefer 1 year experience in forklift, inventory, and warehouse. You will need to lift 50 pounds regularly. It’s a full-time position delivering 5-gallon water bottles, coolers, coffee, brewers, and other products. The application is on Indeed, but unfortunately has no link. You can search the above job or company name and find it if you’re interested.

Dishwasher

Spectrum Lanes and Woody’s Press Box – Wyoming, MI 49509

Full-time, Part-time

Hiring both full- and part-time, they require you be available nights and weekends and have knowledge of food safety and sanitation. You must have an ability to lift 50 pounds, and be able to “juggle ten things at once” (I assume they don’t mean literally, but I personally will give a dollar to anyone who actually juggles ten items during their interview). Duties also include mopping and sweeping, taking out trash, and maintaining restrooms. They do not list a rate of pay.

OTR Driver, CDL A Req. Michigan to Texas and back. Paper Logs.

Bliss Transportation – Wyoming, MI

$60,000 – $70,000 a year

This position requires a CDL A. They say you’ll be home weekly, and will receive a monthly bonus and weekly settlements. You’d be transporting reefer freight in a 2015 Coronado glider, and will not be required to touch freight. Routes run between Michigan and Texas with no trips to either coast, 3000 miles per week.

Maintenance Manager

Sheldon Meadows48 reviews – Hudsonville, MI 49426

$18.50 an hour

This one is full-time, 40 hours per week Monday through Friday 8am – 5pm, with required emergency on call rotation. You must live within 20 miles of the apartment community. You need to be dependable, people-oriented, adaptable/flexible, and detail-oriented.

Driver

Jons To Go – Galesburg, MI 49053

$14 – $18 an hour

Successful candidates must be able to pass a DOT physical and drug screen, have an acceptable driving record, good work history, and medium to heavy truck driving experience. CDL preferred but not required. Must be able to pass a driving skills test and work 40-50 hours per week. They prefer 1 year driving experience, 1 year delivery experience, and 1 year customer service.

Pivot!

This post took an unexpected turn while I was writing it, since Governor Whitmer has announced Michigan is under a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order for at least the next three weeks. It is still good information to keep in your back pocket for the future, but for now look for an upcoming blog post explaining exactly what is meant by “Stay Home”, what you are and are not allowed to do while under the order, and more ideas for things to do while at home.

Be safe. Be well. And most importantly… WASH YOUR HANDS!

What You Can Do to Help

So far I’ve been focusing on finding resources for our members and referents who find themselves in need of food, education, or maybe just something to help pass the time. But I know from several phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts we also have people who are willing to give, help, barter, support, and otherwise make sure their brothers, sisters, and kin are not forgotten. What can you do?

Since you can’t get together in person, reach out via phone, text, email, chat, social media, Facetime, Skype, or whatever other electronic methods you may have. We all need social interaction, and while face to face is better, digital is better than nothing. If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, reach out to them. Ask them how they’re doing, if they need anything, what they’ve been doing to pass the time. Anxiety and depression are already a pretty big problem, and this situation is not helping that. For a lot of people, simply knowing someone cares about them will go a long way toward stabilizing their mental state.

Less personal in nature, more helpful to the community in general, is food bank donations. A few days ago I posted contact information for various food banks in our jurisdiction so our members and referents could make sure their families are fed, but there may be some of you with either an excess or the ability to purchase and donate items. Food banks are currently being inundated with requests for assistance, and their supplies are running low. Most of them are asking people to stay home rather than volunteering so they can keep in-person contact to a minimum, but they are perfectly willing to accept donations. Many of them will pick them up curbside when you drop them off.

Food items needed include all the usual things… pasta, rice, cereal, oatmeal, canned fruit, canned vegetables, peanut and other nut butters, soups, dried beans, dried fruit, spaghetti sauce, complete boxed meals, juice, canned meats, boxed potatoes, honey, dried milk, crackers, sliced bread, bags of apples or potatoes, and the like. It’s best to avoid items packaged in glass jars or cellophane wrappers because they tend to get damaged after being handled by the number of people it takes to put together food bags. You should also avoid items that need openers or special equipment to make, as often the people who receive the goods do not have access to a kitchen. If possible, try to donate boxed mixes that only require adding water.

In addition to the normal things, consider food items that a lot of people wouldn’t think of. Cooking oils. Dried spices and herbs. Boxes of tea bags and/or instant coffee. Salt and pepper. Flour, sugar, and shortening. See if you can include some things easily prepared by children. Throw in some granola bars or other snack items for kids.

Some food banks will accept non-food items as well. These are fantastic to donate because they cannot be purchased through WIC or SNAP, but everyone needs them. Toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, diapers, baby wipes, feminine products, cleaning supplies, hair brushes and combs, paper products, socks and underwear, and hand sanitizer. I realize some of those items are worth their weight in gold right now, but right now it’s more important than ever that everyone practice proper hygiene and cleanliness, and that is impossible if you don’t have the means to do it.

You know what else food banks almost always need? Plastic and/or paper bags. Zip-top bags. New plastic containers. Plastic gloves. Stuff in which to put donated items so they can be given to those in need. I bet they could also use cleaning and disinfecting supplies for their own use as well.

Lastly, some pantries accept pet food, collars, leashes, and toys. There are also a few pet food banks, as I mentioned in the post with all the food banks.

Many food banks actually prefer you donate cash rather than actual items. They tend to have arrangements with local stores, or matching donations from local businesses, or other means of getting a discount on food. All of which means they can stretch a dollar a LOT further than you can. Also, having cash on hand allows them to supplement the non-perishable items on their shelves with meats, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and dairy items. You don’t have to give a lot! As you see above, even $10.00 will provide a lot of food. I’ve read several places it costs somewhere between $1.00 and $2.00 to feed a family of four through a food bank.

Before you decide to donate any physical items, please contact whatever food bank you choose to find out what they in particular need most, what items they do and do not accept, and protocol for donations. If you’re planning to donate money, most of them have a website through which you can give, but if you call them I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help you give them money.

United we stand, divided we fall… we’re most often used to hearing that in discussions about collective bargaining agreements, but it’s true in everyday life as well. We are all in this together, and we can help each other get through it.

Be safe. Be well. And most importantly… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Social Distancing Activities

At this point, if you don’t know you’re supposed to stay home whenever possible and limit your contact with other people, you must live under a rock. Of course, if you do live under a rock you’re probably better off than a lot of people, so good on ya!

While you sit home avoiding people, why not get some education? It’s prime time to take a bunch of classes, so when we finally do get back to work you’ll have more knowledge and skills which could very well lead to getting more work. There really isn’t a down side here! Check out the links below and see if there is something that interests you. It doesn’t have to be entertainment industry related, of course… educating yourself on pretty much anything makes you a better person all the way around. If you do complete training courses related to the industry, please email your certificates or other documentation to training (at) iatse26.org for credit and so we know what new knowledge you’ve acquired.

Of course first I’m going to point out the IATSE Training Trust Fund partnerships. The TTF works to provide all IATSE workers, members or not, with training to develop new skills, keep up with changing technology, and generally improve their value as workers. Normally all of these programs would come with a cost, but through the TTF partnerships the IA is able to offer them to all workers either free or at a greatly reduced price.

IATSE TTF Partnerships:

Did you know ASM Global, who manages DeVos Place/Hall and Van Andel Arena, contributes to the TTF as part of our collective bargaining agreements? They have a vested interest in our workers being highly skilled so they can provide the best experience for their clients. That also makes all of our referents who have worked under those agreements (which has to be pretty close to all of you) eligible for these classes!

First up is TTF and Safety First! The Safety First! classes are valuable for every craft in the industry whether you think you need it or not. They’re also valuable for a number of situations in your regular daily life. Not only do they teach you to recognize potential hazards and decrease your risk of injury or other harm, they also include case studies that actually happened in the industry for ease of understanding. The TTF has made it even easier to apply for these classes with an online application.

Second is TTF and LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) has an incredible array of online courses for pretty much anything you could want to learn. The Local 26 Education and Safety Committee keeps a list of preferred courses specifically related to the industry, but you don’t have to limit yourself if other subjects interest you! Again, the TTF is looking out for you with an easier online application, found here.

Third in line is TTF and Avixa. Avixa (formerly InfoComm) is the program the IA uses for Live Event Technician training. This is the online portion of the week-long classroom course the Local participated in a few years ago. Those who passed both the online and classroom courses became certified Live Event Technicians. Those who take the online portion only will become Avixa recognized AV Technologists.

Manufacturer and Vendor Classes:

Ever wanted to learn how to run a light board? There are of course many online classes (and Local 26 has taught a few as well), but they usually come with what can sometimes be a hefty fee. Due to the current situation, however, several companies are offering their online classes free of charge. There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone one you already have!

ETC (Electronic Theatre Controls) has several courses that not only can teach you how to run their various controllers, but also how to network, maintain, and troubleshoot their systems. You won’t end up as a certified ETC technician, but you will gain a great deal of valuable knowledge. Most if not all of the venues in which we work have ETC lighting consoles, and there aren’t a lot of people currently working who have the skill checks for them.

ACT Lighting Academy is a new one to me, but they also offer training courses on various lighting controllers, namely the GrandMA2 and GrandMA3. Those are boards we see come through with shows, and also what some of our vendor affiliates use. All of their classes are showing prices, but you can get them for free by creating a free account and using the promo code act4me during checkout.

This article from LiveDesign lists a number of companies offering free training in many aspects of the entertainment industry. Some are well known, others not so much. It’s all learning! It’s all important!

Don’t Forget to Entertain Yourself!

These last few are not technically educational, but offer entertainment to help alleviate your boredom and give you a theatrical break from binge-watching all those TV shows you’ve missed while working live shows.

For those of you who miss working Broadway musicals, BroadwayHD is a streaming service that allows you to watch hundreds of Broadway shows in your living room. Normally a paid subscription service (and worth it if you’re interested at only $8.99/month or $99.99/year), they are now offering a 7-day free trial. There are no limits on how many shows you are allowed to watch in that time. Wouldn’t it be neat to see some of the stuff you’ve worked from the front?

Calling all opera fans! You may have missed the recent live stream of Opera Grand Rapids’ Scalia/Ginsburg, but the Metropolitan Opera is offering an incredible catalog of performances you can stream free of charge. There is a different production every day with the daily stream beginning at 7:30pm EDT, but each one is available for streaming for 20 hours afterward in case you missed it.

In addition to these, there are a number of museums, zoos, aquariums, and other similar attractions employing webcams while they are shut down to provide virtual tours. Also, most libraries offer electronic borrowing of books, movies, etc. while they are closed (and while they’re open too, of course). Plus, it was just announced yesterday afternoon that the DNR is waiving state park entrance fees until further notice, so if you really need to get out of the house you have somewhere to go. Just make sure you practice social distancing, and be aware many buildings may well be closed, such as visitor centers and restrooms.

Be safe. Be well. Take some classes. Watch some shows. And most importantly… WASH YOUR HANDS!