29 May 2020

On Virtual Public Engagement

"Most public involvement practitioners could write a book about the sometimes unusual encounters of working in the public realm. . . . [W]orking with the public and stakeholders is occasionally colorful, and yet more often than not, critical to overall program or project success. These times are no different. Public engagement and continued project development do not need to come to a halt during a time of social distancing, in fact, communication must increase.

"The public still needs - and is often required - to have a meaningful voice in infrastructure projects. Stakeholders still have key knowledge and information that can help inform solutions. We still have a duty to reach underserved populations."

The design firm HDR recently offered a number of steps that may be used to create a virtual engagement program.

To access the complete list, please visit:

HDR: When the Open House Is Closed; A Playbook for Virtual Public Engagement

Suggestions for Combining Exercise and Social Distancing

The Bolton, MA, Trails Committee is offering a number of suggestions designed to keep one entertained while exercising and social distancing. These suggestions include plogging and taking a photo and sharing it on social media.

To access a copy of the complete list of these suggestions (and related links), please visit:

Bolton Trails Committee: Trail Maps

Background information:

Bolton Trails Committee

Town of Bolton

Wikipedia: Bolton, Massachusetts

Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Part 51

In 2003, on Holy Thursday, 2003. Pope John Paul II issued what would be his final encyclical: Ecclesia de Eucharistia, "On the Eucharist and Its Relationship to the Church." This encyclical contains much to prayerfully ponder/meditate on. The encyclical's Chapter Five, The Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration, continues as follows:
"51. The development of sacred art and liturgical discipline which took place in lands of ancient Christian heritage is also taking place on continents where Christianity is younger. This was precisely the approach supported by the Second Vatican Council on the need for sound and proper "inculturation". In my numerous Pastoral Visits I have seen, throughout the world, the great vitality which the celebration of the Eucharist can have when marked by the forms, styles and sensibilities of different cultures. By adaptation to the changing conditions of time and place, the Eucharist offers sustenance not only to individuals but to entire peoples, and it shapes cultures inspired by Christianity.
"It is necessary, however, that this important work of adaptation be carried out with a constant awareness of the ineffable mystery against which every generation is called to measure itself. The "treasure" is too important and precious to risk impoverishment or compromise through forms of experimentation or practices introduced without a careful review on the part of the competent ecclesiastical authorities. Furthermore, the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery demands that any such review must be undertaken in close association with the Holy See. As I wrote in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, "such cooperation is essential because the Sacred Liturgy expresses and celebrates the one faith professed by all and, being the heritage of the whole Church, cannot be determined by local Churches in isolation from the universal Church".101
101No. 22: AAS 92 (2000), 485.

Franz Berwald: Symphony No. 2 in D major

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Franz Berwald's Symphony No. 2 in D major (Sinfonie capricieuse) as played by Helsingborgs Symfoniorkester, conducted by Okko Kamu:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings that result when people work collaboratively.

A Spirit of Unity

America is an amazing country. In any crisis throughout our nation's history, people have pulled together in a spirit of community to see one another through difficult times. The situation we have found ourselves in over the past few months, battling a pandemic that has swept through the entire world, has revealed this spirit once again. When Liz Klinger of San Francisco, California, learned that the hospital where her mother works had a mask shortage, she decided to act, not just for her mom but for the entire country. In an interview with SFGate, Klinger said, "My mom is a nurse, and she told me they weren't being provided masks on her floor, which was obviously kind of concerning. . . . And I was hearing through the grapevine that my mom's experience was far from the only experience like that - U.S. healthcare workers across the country need masks."

Klinger connected with Chloe Albert, who works in health care supplies. Albert informed Klinger of the long waiting period for new masks. They realized that the quickest way to get new masks was to appeal to people with their own private supplies. So Klinger and Albert joined together to form a website called Mask Match to connect people who had their own small supplies of masks with hospitals experiencing shortages. The donations began to pour in.

Another vital supply in battling this pandemic, both in hospitals and in our own homes, is hand sanitizer. We have faced major shortages from the earliest days of the outbreak. So distilleries, which usually produce alcoholic beverages, began to utilize their facilities to produce hand sanitizer and the kind of alcohol used as a disinfectant. "I'm most proud of the people on our staff," Travis Barnes told Fox News. Barnes is a disabled veteran who owns the Indiana-based Hotel Tango Distillery, which is the first combat-disabled, veteran-owned distillery in America. As soon as Barnes heard of the need, he switched his operation over completely to making sanitizer. He said, "There hasn't been any hesitation from day one. We've seen people step up every day in extraordinary ways. I hope we can continue to help each other, support our neighbors and come out of this thing stronger than before."

From small companies to large, Americans are turning their ingenuity towards addressing the health crisis. A Business Insider headline read, "Tesla, Apple, and Ford are stepping up to address global shortages of ventilators, hand sanitizer, face masks, and gowns." And in another amazing story we learned of how individuals are helping out from their own homes by running simulations on their computers to help scientists weed through data to find treatments for their patients. Reporting on the story, KFOX radio wrote on their website, "To find treatments, scientists need a ton of computing power to simulate how various proteins interact.  So the website FoldingAtHome.org has been asking people to download software that lets your computer run simulations when you're not using it. Over 400,000 people have signed up. And the raw computing power combined is already close to three times faster than the world's fastest supercomputer."

When you look at these kinds of stories, you have confidence in America's ability to weather any crisis. We simply have to remember that we are so much stronger when we collaborate with each other, and that is exactly what so many people have been doing. So have faith that we will come through this and be stronger for the fight we have engaged in together.

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column by Father Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers' Board of Directors ; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.

Background information:

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from Dwight D. Eisenhower

"No one can always be right. So the struggle is to do one's best, to keep the brain and conscience clear, never to be swayed by unworthy motives or inconsequential reasons, but to strive to unearth the basic factors involved, then do one's duty." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower