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2021: On the Threshold of What Can Be

The word liminal comes from the Latin root limen, which means threshold. A liminal space is the “crossing over space”—where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else. Anthropologists use the term liminality to refer to the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status, but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete.

During a ritual’s liminal stage (that is, in the liminal space), participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.” (by Stuart Jones).

I have been thinking a great deal about liminal spaces in the last few weeks. The holidays and the start of the New Year tend to feel a like a liminal space, as we anticipate the sense of renewal that a new year brings. Of course, the anticipation of turning the calendar on 2020 wanted to feel like renewal, a new chance—and yet we are very much in a liminal space.

Afterall, we are between:

--Vaccine and Vaccinations.

We know the vaccine exists and it is effective. Now we must move through the stages of producing enough doses, setting up appointments, mobilizing healthcare workers, and gaining the trust of everyone to get vaccinated. It will take time, probably months. And so, we must remain vigilant, wear our masks, stay socially distant, and stay strong.

We are also in a liminal space between what we thought we understood about the economy and society and what we know now.

The pandemic has been like a high beam flashlight revealing the cracks in our foundation.

--Will we ever look at the food on our table the same way again or will we recognize all the “essential workers” in fields, meat packing plants, and grocery stores, who helped put it there? Will we see our neighbors and friends who stood in line at a food bank to have food on their table?

--Do we now have a better understanding of the importance of quality, affordable childcare to our economy? More than one million women have dropped out of the workforce because they could not balance work and hybrid schooling. The YWCA calls this recession a “Shecession,” as it has overwhelmingly hit women and especially women of color. Advocates for Children NJ and others are making a call to action to “Reimagine Childcare.” GBCA is committed to be at the forefront of this discussion.

--Have we wrestled with the notion that healthcare is a right, not a privilege? That internet access is a right?

--And at a time when having a safe home in which to isolate has never been more vital, are we asking ourselves if our community has housing options that everyone can afford?

Here at Greater Bergen Community Action there is no ambiguity nor disorientation for us in this liminal space. We are redoubling our efforts and our commitment to these important questions and most importantly to the people whose lives these questions reveal.

2021 demands of all of us that as we “stand on this threshold,” in this liminal space, and that we make the conscious decision to restructure and redesign our community so that it is healthier, happier, and more prosperous for everyone.

We hope you will join us in large and small ways to make the Greater Bergen community the best place to live and work for all; because everyone is essential and deserves a life of dignity, health, and opportunity.

At Greater Bergen Community Action, we proudly proclaim:

Lives Changed Here.


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