Living in the Age of Social Solidarity

By Mitchell Kriegman   |   March 26, 2020
Dawnielle Brownell, Angela Binetti Schmidt, and Shannon Garton of One805

Within the social distancing guidelines, as inconsistent as they are across the country, it’s already become odd to see people in Netflix movies holding hands, walking together, gathering at concerts, hugging and being close. Press conferences where the experts stand shoulder to shoulder seem unnerving. If you’re not one of the oblivious, Covidiot Spring Breakers, frolicking on the Miami Beaches and our own Isla Vista shores, it is difficult not to have that fingernails-on-chalkboard feeling while watching so many people ignore precautions during what is likely the next big incubation period of the coronavirus.

The New Reality

Social distancing, physical distancing, not emotional distancing is what the experts are advising. But it’s counterintuitive in our experience to care for one another by staying away from one another. The conundrum tears at the very fabric of society, culture, and resonates against our animal instincts to huddle close in emergencies. Livin’ La Vida Soledad isn’t easy.

As the virus spreads with nineteen cases at last count this week in Santa Barbara County, the people of Montecito and Santa Barbara are adapting quickly as the virus interacts with our social institutions and behaviors.

The new reality raises the question, as Ezra Klein has written in a recent essay, “Can social trust and solidarity replicate faster than the virus?”

Social distance sounds like a punishment akin to solitary confinement. Meanwhile we’re being called on to take actions for the sake of the greater good that aren’t always straightforward. To assume we’re asymptomatic as a way to rationalize the requisite six feet between us maybe a good rule of thumb and even true, but it’s worse-case scenario logic.

While many twist themselves into linguistic knots to rationalize the need to stave off the worst possibilities of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that there’s a simple concept that explains it all. Social solidarity.

Social Solidarity Today

Social solidarity isn’t something new. Social solidarity is why we keep our kids home from school when they are sick. Although only a percentage of Americans are old or fragile, we all know and love someone in those categories, and social solidarity is what compels us to knock on the door of an older neighbor to see if they’re okay. It permits us to sacrifice for each other. It’s even why at four-way stop signs in Santa Barbara people sit in their cars and keep waving each other to go first.

Montecito and Santa Barbara have a long-storied history of serious social solidarity. It’s a matter of survival and pride that our communities have endured earthquakes, oil spills, fires, droughts, and mudslides. And now a pandemic. Each catastrophic event has made the community stronger with those that “have” helping those that “haven’t,” banding together to dig each other out of tragedy and even manage to lift our spirits and celebrate with a festival, a fundraiser, or a concert in the process. Not every community wears its social solidarity on its sleeve the way ours does. This is a community where first responders are revered and lauded even showered with gifts on occasions of survival, many communities could learn from our experience.

So, in the time of this coronavirus that has upended lives around the world, where we have to quarantine and maintain social distance, the concept of social solidarity makes simple direct understandable sense of it all. Santa Barbara is as known for its charities and non-profits as much as for its wine and weather. Montecito is known as much for its standard of giving as its standard of living. Social solidarity is our forte.

Organizations Mobilizing

In this time of crisis, organizations like AHA, the Bucket Brigade, One805 and more have already gathered their resources and regrouped to help. Even our institutions, banks and hospitals have recommitted themselves to join the fray. New paradigms of sharing, collaboration, and working together are being forged every day. New practices and protocols are being instituted to meet this unusual situation, sometimes solving old problems, while addressing the new. Many of these new practices will continue on long after the dreaded virus has moved on.

Over the next weeks the Montecito Journal will highlight many of these institutions, companies, groups and, most of all, the pivotal people who have put a stake in the ground to help, to organize and to express their social solidarity in the most clear straight forward uncomplicated way as possible in these complicated times.

The Timely Work of One805

One805 supports first responders and collects supplies for healthcare workers on the front line

This week we’ll focus on One805, a group that sprung out of a celebration of first responders and their heroic efforts in the mudslides of 2018. The mandate and mission of One805 is compelling and simple – to care and help those who care and help all of us.

Angela Binetti Schmidt is the voluble new executive director of the recently organized One805 501C that was born of the largest non-profit event in Santa Barbara history – the Kick Ash Bash, which was fittingly a concert, a celebration, and a massive act of healing and appreciation for all the First Responders and their families who came to the rescue so many people in the Montecito debris flow.

A UCSB graduate with over fourteen years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, Angela is a passionate voice for the need to care for the people who care for us – the First Responders and in this current crisis, the Second Responders as well.

The Hospitals are on The Front Lines

We think of the police, firefighters, and ambulance drivers as our first line of defense and the hospital and its doctors and nurses and other workers as our second line of defense. But in this time of the coronavirus, it’s our doctors and nurses who are on the front lines risking their lives every day to care for the community.

It has become urgent front and center that the public understand this reversal and that we all support in our actions, especially the current order to social distance, and donations, masks, and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), the hospitals and hospital workers throughout Santa Barbara County. Our health and survival, especially the vulnerable among us depend on our health care system, Cottage Hospital, Urgent Care Centers, and hospitals throughout the county.

One805 has grasped this turnaround faster than any other organization. They’ve already set up a monitored drop box to accept urgently needed unused masks, gloves, liquid hand sanitizers and protective medical clothing at 2000 State Street conveniently located in the Goodwin & Thyne Properties Building with curbside parking and drop off, complying with all the guidelines of social distancing. Residents can also mail their supplies to One805, Inc., 2000 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. They are one of the few organizations that can get these supplies directly in cooperation with the hospitals and first responders.

One805 has a lively and up-to-the-minute emergency feed that is well worth subscribing to and “liking” @One805sb on Twitter. Every community member who joins adds to the reach and power of the organization.

“If the last few years have taught us anything,” Angela adds, “this community knows how to rally in times of need.” Santa Barbara is already well schooled in the ways of social solidarity. One805 is also searching for empty residences to be used expressly for first responders who are concerned about limiting potential virus exposure to their family members. If you have an empty home or residence in Santa Barbara County, you can notify One805 by email

It takes a moment to truly absorb the magnitude of the mission of One805. It is a singular mandate that other communities across the country are just catching on to.

They’ve Made an Oath

It’s easy to think of the people who defend and care for us as superheroes, but it’s glib and simplistic to see them that way. They are everyday people with children and grandparents, with personal needs and childcare concerns who have literally taken an oath to serve and protect all of us.

In this cynical age where broken oaths and discarded promises abound, the commitment of first responders has remained unchanged. They take their oath with deadly seriousness, even when their own safety and health is at stake. Let that sink in beyond the clichés we’ve all grown up with and the importance and complexity of supporting our responders becomes eminently clear. Selflessness is their badge of honor. A willingness to dive into the fray is their call to duty. Hesitation, complaining are not within their job description.

Caring for people who care for us is a powerful message. One805’s mission has to be executed in lockstep with the responders themselves and coordinated throughout the county. Furthermore, these support materials and services are donated money-blind, equitably, throughout the county, from North to South County without distinction providing an equal opportunity safety net for first responders all over the county, everywhere including correctional facilities.

“All of the supplies will stay within our county,” Angela assures. “As of now, this is fluid, but we’re making sure Cottage Hospital is adequately stocked. Then we will move to the next location.”

As the wife of a long time highly specialized first responder, Angela knows the appropriate way to help men and women in a profession that prides itself on being stoic and having everything under control.

“We have three young children and being a family, I understand that the focus is on getting the job done,” she says. “They’re not focused on ‘what do I need.’ This has given me the unique ability to help and position One805 where it needs to be.”  The organization is lean with only a few staff members, a few independent contractors.

One of the most far reaching and compelling aspects of the organization is its unique and remarkable advisory council comprised of the head of each fire department and sheriff’s department in Santa Barbara County, including the Chief of Police, the Sheriff, Montecito Fire Chief and so on.

Although One805 was sparked by the Kick Ash Bash, there’s a reason it’s changed structure and mission.

“Before it was run through the Firefighter’s Alliance and the Kick Ash Bash was an appreciation festival,” Angela explains. “We’re different. We have the mission of supporting our whole community in the County in an equitable fashion. We do not want to be another black-tie charity. Anybody can join and contribute. It’s only $25 to become a member.”

As the threat of the pandemic spreads, it’s no small feat to coordinate with hospitals and responders throughout the county.

They’ve Been Training for This

“We learned on the debris flow. We know from experience these heroes are just selfless,” she recounts. “They are so focused on their job and what they’ve been given, they’re there. They’ve been training for this. They’ve already pledged an oath to serve and protect our community. So, in a lot of ways, this is business as usual for them. But this pandemic has never happened before. We have to be there to support them in every possible way.”

People learn about their first and second responders in a crisis. They take them for granted the rest of the time. This one is a major wake up to what the hospitals do for the community, especially as we see how much doctors and nurses throw themselves into treating and addressing this unpredictable virus. There seems to be a paradigm shift happening where people see the people who support them and help them. We have to have the social solidarity to help those who are helping us and who we’re depending on.

One Love – One805

“The ‘One’ in One805 is key,” Angel concludes. “Sure, it’s one county, one area code but it’s really the whole ‘one love,’ ‘one together.’ That’s really important in our mission, we want the community to be involved as one.”


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