Students create e-newsletters to bring a virtual community together

Monday, April 13, 2020

Several Carlson School seniors have started e-newsletters in response to the COVID-19 public health concern. They hope to spread positivity, share resources, and ways to help during the crisis, all while creating a space for community among students in this new virtual space.

 

Right Side of the Bed newsletter

Creator: Maddie Sutton, a senior majoring in Accounting and Human Resources & Industrial Relations

What is "Right Side of the Bed"?

Right Side of the Bed newsletter

Right Side of the Bed is a bi-weekly e-newsletter combining passion and hope, with the ultimate goal of inspiring positivity and action during the current uncertainty. Every Monday and Friday, subscribers open their email inboxes to find a list of recommendations, from books to TV shows to podcasts, in an attempt to cure boredom. 

Additionally, every edition features a #RightSideRandomAct, which recommends easy ways to spread kindness, such as Venmo-ing healthcare workers to cover their daily coffee, as well as a donation or an at-home volunteer opportunity. Overall, this newsletter intends to help brighten the days of its readers, while providing the chance to pass positivity forward. Individuals need each other now more than ever, and the Right Side of the Bed extends a virtual hand to anyone in need of comfort and creates a chain reaction of continued support throughout communities. 

Why was it important for you to start this during the COVID-19 public health emergency?

When I first returned home from college, I quickly realized that finding energy and positivity was a true challenge; I wanted to stay in bed all day, rather than facing the losses accumulating around me, such as last semester of college memories, commencement, and post-graduation travels. It even seemed as though every conversation, news report, and social media post revolved around negative results of COVID-19, and consequently, how our lives would be hindered indefinitely. 

These updates consistently affected my mood and everyday outlook, seemingly encouraging me to continue mourning everything I missed, rather than trying to find the silver lining in a difficult situation. Considering the high rate at which individuals consume media today, I knew I was not the only one feeling this way, and I wanted to create a change; thus, the Right Side of the Bed Newsletter was born. Ultimately, it would be an email to look forward to receiving, a bright light amongst the never-ending stream of postponement, cancellation, and closing announcements in our inboxes.  

In addition to a positivity boost, the Right Side of the Bed aims to mitigate feelings of helplessness for individuals trapped at home by offering bi-weekly causes to support from the couch. Simply put, I hope to reinvigorate a feeling of purpose in subscribers’ daily lives, by offering chances to aid in the pandemic.

Overall, it was important to me to provide others with inspiration and empowerment; if we don’t help each other stay strong, how do we expect to survive? 

What are your best tips for sharing positivity during this time?

My biggest tip for sharing positivity is realizing that everyone is going through some sort of loss, which means everyone needs a shoulder to lean on! Too often it feels like only large, money-driven gestures, such as donations of thousands of dollars, are appreciated during times of crisis, when in reality, it is often the smallest actions of humanity that make the biggest difference.

Calling an older relative who is completely isolated, sending a heartfelt, handwritten card in the mail, or asking those you know in essential work positions if there is anything they need right now are all effective ways of improving someone’s day; for me, simply getting a text that says “I miss you” brings more happiness than anything. No act of support, no matter how small, will go unnoticed by others.  

Although we may not be sure when the uncertainty will end or how our world will look in COVID-19’s wake, we will always have other people, so I encourage you to take time to check on those you love and remind them of their importance. In my eyes, nothing creates more positivity than connection, which is something we can all share. 

What do you hope the community will take away from the Right Side of the Bed?

After reading an edition of the Right Side of the Bed, I hope the community has a new goal they are excited to tackle, whether that be a book that they can’t wait to dive into, a volunteer organization they would love to support, or a new work from home tip that might solve their productivity issue. 

Right now, when all we see are the walls of our houses, even the smallest change to a daily routine feels exciting. Thus, I want the Right Side of the Bed to provide ideas worth pursuing to continue improving the quarantine lifestyle of every reader, ideally, re-instilling the idea that each day is priceless, even if you are stuck at home. 

How to sign up.

If you are interested in receiving the Right Side of the Bed e-newsletter, please be sure to sign up via z.umn.edu/RSOTBNewsletter. This link can also be found on our Instagram page, @Rightside_Newsletter, which features daily graphics to continue spreading positivity on days I do not release a new edition.

The Remote newsletter

Creators: Hannah Zagon (Q&A respondent below), Lauren Cortez, Alex Douglas, Justin Tran, Evan Dahlseide, and Jenna Sundstrom; All seniors taking the Entrepreneurship in Action course

What is "The Remote"?

The Remote newsletter

The main goal of The Remote is to help students who are living in the Twin Cities area navigate this period of social distancing. We provide students with weekly activities, self care ideas, recipes and job searching advice. The content changes each week so that students have the newsletter as something new to look forward to with up to date information. We also include resources and local businesses that students can support, to keep them educated and aware of how they can be safe and helpful in the community. We want to be a friend to students and help them stay sane during this scary time.

Why was it important for you to start this during the COVID-19 public health emergency?

Being an entrepreneur is all about finding problems in the world, and solving them. This pandemic has created many new and unsolved problems, one of them being the struggle that is associated with social distancing. We, specifically, understand and can relate to the problems this pandemic causes for college students. We’ve gotten feedback that students who are staying on campus are struggling to keep busy during this time, especially when they are cooped up in their small apartment. Some are international students who don’t have family nearby, others may be living alone and lost their source of income. While our newsletter may not be saving lives, we hope it brings some light into student’s lives and helps to alleviate the struggles that come with social distancing.

What are your best tips for sharing positivity during this time?

It’s hard to not get caught up in the news and negative stories that are happening nowadays. My Facebook feed is filled with sad stories and every time I turn on the news, it’s always about the coronavirus. While I think it’s very important to stay informed during this time, it’s also important to fill your life with things that don’t involve the coronavirus. I try to FaceTime/Zoom with my friends once a day, and talk about anything but the coronavirus. We play games, share recipes, talk about what we are watching on Netflix, etc. If you only fill your life up with news, you will have nothing else to talk about. So it’s important that you do things that take your mind off of the virus and share those things with others to spread positivity!

What do you hope the community will take away from The Remote?

I hope they take away that there are many ways to have fun, be productive, and try new things during social distancing, you just have to be a little creative. I understand that everyone is handling this pandemic differently and it can be a very stressful and scary time for many. While it’s not expected that everyone will want to do our activities, I hope it makes people realize that you can be socially distanced and still be okay. 

How to sign up.

Sign up here: https://the-remote.mailchimpsites.com