Building Community in a Time of Isolation

OutLive newsletter #1 – April 7, 2020

Last Wednesday, April 1, was supposed to mark a new phase in the life of OutLive. After a year in the cocoon defining our mission, vision and initial projects, the OutLive board and I were ready to launch outward. I was finally free of other work obligations – for the summer and early fall, at least – and was primed to devote my time and energy to all the exciting outreach, projects and partnerships the board and I had been working on.


We knew by late February that the emerging coronavirus threat might mess things up, but we didn’t realize it would completely blow up our game plan. When your mission is helping cancer patients get active outdoors and connected to others, self-quarantine and personal distance restrictions present existential threats.


Here are the four projects that OutLive would be launching and promoting right now, if we weren’t all fighting a global pandemic:

  • The OutRunners cancer survivors running club

  • The OutLive film festival on May 9 (*moved to September 25)

  • A nature photography workshop for cancer survivors in mid-May

  • The third annual Mountain Magic Trail Run on June 20 (*still pending)


Now, all those things are on hold. Fortunately, two other projects can move forward:

  • A Cancer Survivor’s Toolkit that will provide educational and community resources that aren’t otherwise available to survivors

  • An Outdoors Prescription Program that encourages oncology providers to “prescribe” time outdoors as part of cancer treatment


Finding the resources to support these projects is still uncertain, as the Mountain Magic Trail Run and OutLive Film Festival were to be our major funding sources for the summer and fall.


But maybe all this uncertainty is alright. In fact, maybe it’s exactly as it should be. After all, cancer survival is all about making sense of the senseless, getting your bearings again after a time of disorientation. OutLive will have to embrace the uncertainty. Because there are still cancer survivors in Spokane and beyond, and they can still get outdoors, and they can still set goals and connect with others.


Together, we’ll build the vibrant community of cancer survivors, health providers and community partners we’ve envisioned. It’ll just follow a different blueprint than we planned.

Please contact me anytime with thoughts, feedback or comments.


- Brad Thiessen, Executive Director