No Memphis In May. No Beale Street browsing. No proms or graduations — at least not in the flesh.
But in this time of social isolation and uncertainty, some people have found ways to celebrate what has always been in plain sight.
For the Ellis family of Memphis, it was each other.
“We’ve been eating dinner at the dinner table together every night,” said Calvin Ellis, who, along with his wife, Juana, daughter Carrington and son Caleb, shared what they learned in their isolation as part of #BeAJoymaker.
“We’ve been going on family walks a lot.”
A virtual movement spearheaded by Lori Spicer Robertson, founder of the site Wundher.com, #BeAJoymaker was created to help people like the Ellises share their experiences in finding joy during the pandemic. Participants post videos and selfies of themselves discussing — and many times showing — what they’re doing to survive, and to even thrive, in a reality that COVID-19 has turned on its head.
But come June 6, the Ellises and others will get to share their experiences in Joymaker 2020, a virtual gathering of thought leaders and storytellers who will help participants find ways to make the most out of their isolation.
“I started this because I was talking to so many people who were distressed, stressed, trying to battle with uncertainty, fear, anxiety and all these issues,” said Robertson, who is also chief communications and engagement officer of United Way of the Mid-South.
“I saw where it was keeping them from coming up with innovative ways to move forward, but it was also keeping them from enjoying the present moment of being able to spend time with family, being grateful to spend time with the people who are still here, especially with so many (COVID-19) losses.”
The virtual gathering, which will be carried on the platform BlueJeans, will feature presenters such as Felicia Pride, a writer for the OWN series “Queen Sugar,” and Ryan Robertson, a Memphis native and innovation and multicultural marketing executive based in New York City.
They will talk about the power of storytelling and how it can be used during this time, Robertson said.