Good safe resocialization activities for pandemic isolates?
December 13, 2021 11:09 PM   Subscribe

We need for people to be able to meet up with and safely be with others who were also out of commission during the pandemic, isolated from their kith. It should be&feel safe...

Outdoors if possible but not someplace in the woods which also has unsafe aspects. It should be easy for others to use for connection too, and tolerant of those who are rusty at this social stuff. What would provide a small but still positive experience of repeated, safe, easy, in-person, small group socializing?

One idea: learning to play music together. Others?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How big of a group do you mean, and do you already have a covered outdoor space available?
posted by bluedaisy at 1:00 AM on December 14, 2021

I think this also really depends on the weather - I live in Massachusetts and it’s too cold most of the time for me to want to have my fingers exposed to play an instrument for more than a few minutes. I could hold out longer if I were singing and wearing mittens, and I could hold out a lot longer if I were walking/hiking/jogging (so the fitness level of the participants also matters).

If it’s cold where your are, I’d recommend something active-ish. Walking tours? Birding? If you’re someplace where is still comfortable to sit outside, music sounds nice, or a book club?

Two big things you can do to keep any activity safer is to make sure everyone’s vaxxed (and encourage people to get boosted ASAP) and have everyone take a rapid test immediately before the meetup.
posted by mskyle at 4:40 AM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

- Dancewalking around a local track, while listening to the same playlist together
- Geocaching
- Bird watching
- Volunteer to photograph cemetery headstones
posted by cocoagirl at 5:24 AM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Singing raises transmission risk. If you’re outside it’s not as bad, but it is one of the most aerosol-generating activities you can do.

Would it work to have an outdoor fire pit and just have some unstructured hanging around?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:33 AM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Given that Omicron is a big unknown in terms of severity, and at least appears to be out-competing Delta in places it has a foot-hold (2-3 day doubling period in the UK and Ontario, even with masking and other NPIs), I'd argue this is not the right time to dive into this project.
posted by Alterscape at 7:26 AM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

What is unsafe about the woods? Hiking/walking is probably the safest thing a group can do, if the weather means it's not possible to sit in a park or backyard at a distance from each other.
posted by pinochiette at 7:37 AM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

What is unsafe about the woods? Hiking/walking is probably the safest thing a group can do, if the weather means it's not possible to sit in a park or backyard at a distance from each other.

I think the OP means the woods are unsafe for non-COVID reasons. (Just off the top of my head I can think of a lot of potential hazards -- if the paths are badly maintained or nonexistent, no or poor lighting, terrain too difficult for certain members of the group, etc.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:24 AM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Do you know why the people in question have been more isolated than most, and what it is that's changing now to allow them to become a little less so? And do you have a feel for how socially anxious they are independent of the pandemic?

I agree with Alterscape that the timing feels a bit odd - here in the UK Omicron's driving a terrifying spike in new cases, and it definitely doesn't feel like an obvious moment for socially isolated people to be starting to emerge from their shells. I mean, I'm one of them, and I'm sitting here right now wondering whether it's an acceptable risk to go into a shop for a loaf of bread, or whether I should make do with what's in the freezer until my booster's had the full two weeks to get up to speed. Socialising is really not on the radar.

However, leaving the timing aside, here are some low-stress things that I might enjoy doing with other people:

- just hanging out in a park or field or quiet pub garden, chatting in an unstructured way with friends
- chatting with friends whilst walking around somewhere interesting or scenic
- a scavenger hunt, of the "find a [thing] and take its photo" variety, done in whatever size groups works for the people involved - for me it's most fun if everyone works together in a single group to find the things, but mileage varies
- depending on the weather, a (clean, safe!) park and a bunch of kites, juggling clubs, frisbees, devil sticks etc. would be fun
- maybe a guided walk? If you could form the whole of the group for an interesting walk - nature, history, architecture, ghosts, whatever - the only stranger there would be the guide.

A caveat: Personally, I would only go for these things (after two years by myself) if I knew and was comfortable with the rest of the group. I can't work out from your phrasing whether the plans you're making are for a specific group of known people, or for a generic group of people meeting the criteria. Social anxiety would be a blocker for me in the latter case.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:29 AM on December 16, 2021

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