COVID-19: A Generative Response

This post may include outdated information. See the latest updates on our evolving response here

We at the Whidbey Institute are working to make a safe, proactive, and appropriately-scaled response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Our thoughts go to the communities, both internationally and here in Washington State, where this illness has taken lives—and to all our communities and their most vulnerable members. Keeping our program participants, program leaders, neighbors, and team members safe is essential. Below, you’ll see facts about COVID-19, information about our response, guidelines on when to stay home, and a temporary revision to our cancellation policy as well as information on how to contact us or learn more about the virus. 

Like many challenges of today—climate change, mass extinction, racism, environmental destruction, resource inequity—the coronavirus threat is both personal and collective. On the one hand, we fear for ourselves and our families. We want to insulate, isolate, protect. On the other hand, solutions to challenges like this one come in community. This is a time to check on your elderly friend, to go to that neighborhood gathering, to attend that program that will support your resilience and leave you more resourced, more empowered, and better connected. 

At the Whidbey Institute, we gather to learn how to collectively and generatively engage with the challenges of our times. While we are charged with keeping people safe, we’re also charged with serving the cultural transformation that’s underway. We’re in conversation with other transformational learning centers about how to move forward in this moment, and like the Whidbey Institute most are choosing to continue offering programming that brings people together around the issues that face us all. Like the Whidbey Institute, most centers are also stocking up on hand sanitizer and CDC hygiene protocols!

This is a nurturing space and we need your help to care for the health of the whole community. 

Facts about COVID-19, from the CDC: 

You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms. 

The symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

The risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is currently low.

Some people who have traveled to places where many people have gotten sick with COVID-19 may be monitored by health officials to protect their health and the health of other people in the community. 

For up-to-date information, visit CDC’s coronavirus disease situation summary page.

Additional facts about COVID-19: 

What we’re doing: 

When to stay home:

Cancellation policy:

We invite patience as our collective experience with this virus unfolds. Our cancellation policy for individuals for lodging, facilities, and meal expenses reads as: “We understand that life challenges emerge and changes happen; we request your help in ensuring that we are operating together in integrity. If you find it necessary to cancel, a full refund will be given if notice is received at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the session. For cancellations received less than two weeks prior to the start date, no refund can be given, barring exceptional emergencies.” 

We consider COVID-19 an exceptional emergency. While this region remains on high alert for COVID-19, any registrant may cancel without penalty at any time—and with a full refund—if they are ill. If a registrant chooses to cancel due to concerns about contracting the virus while traveling or convening, the cancellation penalty will likewise be waived. In this latter case, we invite your sensitivity to the financial health of the Whidbey Institute and the revenue we need to support our land, facilities, and team. If you wish to waive your refund and have it applied as a tax-deductible donation, we would be extremely grateful.  

Process for contacting us:

Please address your inquiries to Marnie, [email protected]. Depending on the nature of your question, she’ll point you to the team member best equipped to help. 

Additional resources: 

Please watch our blog for future updates on this topic and others.

With appreciation and well wishes for our collective health,
Heather, Marnie, Meg, and the Whidbey Institute team


March 4, 2020

Public Health


  1. Sheryl Harmer says:

    We’ll done … thank you for the collective thoughtfulness behind this message.

    1. Whidbey Institute says:

      Thank you Sheryl!

  2. Whidbey Institute says:

    A reader, Mary, just shared this helpful resource for those looking to boost immunity:

  3. Michael Fortune says:

    I believe that Whidbey Institute has taken a thoughtful and informed approach to our current understanding of this new viral outbreak. Your approach is sensible and sensitive to what is currently known. I also appreciate the links given to many helpful resources. Thank you for taking a proactive stance.

    1. Whidbey Institute says:

      Thank you Michael!