Creare shifts pandemic priorities to 'promoting activism and anti-racism'

Creare, an all-gender service organization at LMU, has expanded the social justice issues they focus on during their virtual semester.

Creare, one of LMU's all-gender service orgs, has had their mission set on advocacy for children. But this semester, in the midst of a pandemic, they have expanded their focus to include other timely social justice issues, including voting rights, climate justice and anti-racism. Marina Davis, Creare's current president and a junior liberal studies major, explained Creare's 2020 transitions.

Jordan Boaz (J.B.): How has Creare adjusted to the pandemic? What have been the challenges / rewards?

Marina Davis (M.D.): Creare really has had to adjust due to the pandemic. It has been quite challenging to facilitate bonding and relationship-building, since we accepted a new class a week before the pandemic hit. We've held a lot of virtual game nights and movie nights, much more than we have in the past. We have also been working on making social justice issues highlights at monthly meetings; we invite a professor to facilitate a discussion each month about a different social justice issue (we've done voting rights/suppression, the Black Lives Matter Movement, racism within schools and climate justice). It's been difficult to plan these once a month, especially because we have never done them with professors, so it has required a lot of communication and planning. This has also been a positive within the org, though, since we have never had such candid and impactful discussions with each other.

J.B.: What are Creare’s priorities for this semester?

M.D.: Creare's priorities this semester have definitely been highlighting social justice issues, promoting activism and antiracism and fostering relationships with people in the org. With all the protests and antiracist work happening across the globe right now, we have found that it is really important to bring it back to our org and promote these ideas with our members as well. Also, we want the members to be comfortable with each other in this new virtual space, especially the new members because they don't really know anyone! We have planned many bonding events like study sessions, game nights, baking nights, yoga, art activities and movie nights. We want to make sure they have the option to see other Creare members if they would like to.

J.B.: How will your events and your overall focus look different and / or similar this semester? Did you do anything for Fright Night like usual?

M.D.: This semester/year has definitely been different from what it usually is. We were planning on doing our first Advocacy Week (focusing on adverse childhood experiences), Fright Night, New Member Induction, Big/Little Reveal, and many other smaller events. The only event we were really able to achieve online was Big/Little Reveal (and it took so much planning!). Unfortunately, we could not come up with suitable alternatives for Advocacy Week, Fright Night, and Induction in time. We have all been quite affected by both the pandemic and the social justice activism, which has made us prioritize our org members' mental healths, bonding and social justice emphasis. We were also completely unprepared for the pandemic, which has forced us to think about what is important and needed for the members right now...but hopefully next year's e-board will be able to make all of these events happen virtually!

J.B.: How does Creare’s focus on children tie into the pandemic and / or doing online school?

M.D.: Creare has continued to do service online this year. Three out of four of our placements have almost seamlessly transitioned to a virtual format because their services are so needed in their immediate communities. Our members do service, whether that is doing high school mentorship programs, after school tutoring or helping in classrooms, all on Zoom. We do encourage those, who are comfortable, to do service within their communities to continue with our values of youth, mentorship and creativity. Going beyond service and just looking at our focus, children are some of the most affected of the population right now. Being home all the time increases possibilities of abuse, neglect and a lack of community. The programs and schools we work with do help children who truly need the resources they're receiving, which is why it is more important than ever to continue doing service virtually and advocating for their rights, mental health and safety.

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