From the Kansas City business community,
Written from a wellness perspective,
And kindly addressed to:
Thank you. You are all working so hard to slow the spread of CV, and to that goal you have done that as much as you possibly could- lockdown modes, requiring extra safety precautions, putting in policies to try and physically slow the virus. You took it very seriously, no one will ever doubt that, and did so because we know you care so much to want to do the right thing. We in the business community can only imagine how hard it is to make those decisions knowing how many lives they are going to affect.
We in the business community are working hard too, and we have also done as much as we can to slow the spread in our businesses. We have also done as much as we can to make payroll or help provide for income for workers so our beloved staff and their families and livelihoods can go farther towards surviving the environment we continue to choose to operate in. We have not had the luxury to “just stay home” over the past year, and we have been working as hard as we can to keep up with all the new regulations and Orders/Mandates and still serve our community so they can continue to receive the goods & services they need and want. We have observed, we have adapted, stayed creative, made hard decisions, and put faith towards brighter days being just around the corner. So please do not feel like you have to bear the full burden- we want to help you. We have requests that we are asking you to consider, with the same expectation of thoroughness that you are asking of us in the operation of our businesses. We believe you would benefit by engaging with us through assured confidence that future policy decisions are inclusively aligned with your community.
[[UPDATED NOTE- This is where we originally "cordially requested a response by March 31st." We did not receive one. Nor did we receive a response to our text message in December, our letter mailed in January, our email and press release in March, nor our message on twitter in April.
On May 14th, the Mayor and Health Department Director officially called off the state of emergency. The announcement did not talk much about actual public health- or why people should start to live life again, or why people should feel safe interacting with their community again. So here are REASONS why it's safe to live life again. Stay united KC...insist only on optimism, positivity, and forward progression from this point on. We DID this KC!
Top 5 Reasons why it's safe to live life again:
#1 All vulnerable and at risk now have the ability to get protected if they so choose to get the shot.
#2 Acknowledgment that risk level is now extremely low due to how all new viruses level out after their first 2 cold&flu seasons.
#3 Variants are not to be feared, as the common flu (Influenza A) has over 130 strains, and how each variant differs from its base virus by AT MOST 0.3%.
#4 Early-stage treatments exist for viral infections, that prevent those infections from escalating to hospitalizations. Especially note how living a healthy proactive life of WELLNESS is the only long term sustainable solution to any health risk.
#5 We can no longer continue on ignoring the devastating side effects our "state of emergency" policies/choices are having: lost jobs, reduced hours, small business closures, depression, anxiety, opioid overdoses, suicides, greater rates of child & domestic abuse, psychological mental health issues- especially in children. All of these cases and deaths negatively impact our community just as much- if not more- than viral cases and deaths.]]
We are almost a year into this and have all learned a lot, therefore we can constructively analyze the impact it has had on our community. Our slogans and hashtags are telling Kansas Citians to stay home, our daily dialogue is telling us to be more sedentary, and our choices are having downstream consequences of closed businesses and lost jobs or reduced hours, elimination or reduction in paychecks, financial hardship, and all types of insecurities. (A UN report said 10,000 children A MONTH are dying due to starvation and malnutrition caused by the downstream economic impact of our global collective CV choices.) All of this has increased depression, anxiety, addiction, missed medical care appointments, opioid overdoses, suicides, and psychological mental health issues- especially in children. Pushing a sedentary lifestyle makes it no surprise that weight gain is up- which we all know is a comorbidity for CV deaths. Along with sedentary lifestyles, amplified voices telling people to stay home leads to greater rates of child & domestic abuse in those cases where someone’s home is actually not the safest place they can be. All of these impacts are “cases” and “deaths” too, and need to be brought to the forefront and heavily weighted in policy decisions. This is a health crisis, so through all our efforts over the past year, are we healthier than we were a year ago? Are our immune systems stronger? Beyond what can we do to prevent ourselves from getting infected…we should be caring just as much about strengthening our body and boosting our immune system so that in the likely event in our lifetimes that we eventually get the virus (either naturally or via vaccine), that we minimize the negative impact it will have on us.
We know from history that new viruses usually level out after 2 winter seasons, and the airwaves say that the vaccine is being considered our big changing point. With vaccines arriving in our area, this turning point is in sight, so we should also have in sight how and when we can successfully open our city back up? We know our community better than anyone, what we've been through, and what we're capable of. Working together towards achieving city wide milestones will healthily improve our mental outlook on the situation, help the business community budget our business finances more strategically so we can better (and longer) serve our community, and strengthen the bond that is the great gathering of Kansas City. Establishing clearly defined goals would trigger a collective burst of energy as we would all know what we need to do to reach those goals, and of course we all want to reach goals that get us out to the other side of this. Each of our collective choices determine the world that emerges around us. We are all active participants in the future that emerges- no one is a passive witness. Working together will allow us to come out of this stronger, and if done right, Kansas City can become a leader into a bright and sustainable future, and position ourselves strategically & globally at the forefront of the right side of history.
In 2015, KC’s Chief Innovation Officer said KC wanted to be the “smartest city on planet earth within five years”. Well, we can't become the smartest city if we do not work together to become informed and practice discernment to innovate and create at the highest level of mindfulness. Collaboration will make us more energized. Just like we were after 9/11- by immediately showing our determination to not let the terrorists beat us. Or after the atomic era was introduced- we stayed determined to set course and live life without always thinking about the worst case scenario. Or most notably and proudly, here in Kansas City, when our community came together on a similar monumental task of rebuilding after the bad flood of 1951. Norman Rockwell was commissioned to paint a picture to inspire the people, and produced his masterpiece titled the Kansas City Spirit - symbolizing Kansas City’s way of tackling challenges with humbled courage and optimistic energy.
Do all those historical moments sound familiar? Where is that spirit today?
That spirit is still here, and call on any business with that same spirit to simply add their name in support of that effort. (there is also a Citizen/Resident version HERE). Our moment is now. We are asking our local policy leaders to work with us to be the best, the smartest, the most courageous. Let’s come at it from a wellness mindset, something we can generally all agree on, and that is easy to understand. Every good conversation starts with good listening. Please listen to us, as we have listened to you.
In closing, we want to point out that some business owners are reluctant to sign this letter citing fear of repercussions from city agencies. Please do not seek those paths, and accept this letter in pure good faith and positive collaborative tone that it was written. We know that government is a necessary foundation to a civilized society, we want you serving as our government, and we recognize and are grateful that you acted swiftly to protect our community. However we are at a different point now than we were a year ago. We have learned a lot and know much about the landscape that is ahead of us, so let us work together in close partnership to plan for the year ahead, and best provide you with the consent of the governed in order to generate momentum.
Lastly, by now you and your staff would benefit from some self care and health boosting services, so the Kansas City Wellness Club is willing to offer up complimentary services to you. For real, you deserve it. We want to put our best foot forward and take care of you all, and I am asking other co-signers of this letter to consider offering up thank you gifts of their own.
This outbreak is turning corners. Let's unite. Let us breathe again into life a new Kansas City spirit. :)
With respect and partnership, and ultimate care towards the holistic health of our community….
Heath Wessling, Kansas City Wellness Club; Principal Author;
with other co-signing Kansas City business owners: