Based on our critical analysis of the situation, on April 27, 2020, we declared an intention to make 83,000 fabric masks through our Facebook Group, one for every member of the community.
We spent the first month of the pandemic building teams while making surgical caps and developing a distribution network that would be used in the mask-making process, as well as building supply chains to source fabric which at that time was difficult to buy. Our model was a textiles startup.
We operated on the view that masks had shown value in population level contexts. There was ample empirical evidence that masks were clearly beneficial. We needed to do and say something that would capture the hearts and imaginations of our community and which might inspire other communities. It was important to get mask wearing established early in the community, considering the exponential rate of growth of Covid19 once established.
A good mind authored a multi-page strategy document “The Mask Manifesto” that outlined a variety of strategies for making and equally important, popularizing masks and mask-wearing.
It was clear that the fractured and often contradictory information being presented was alienating and frustrating to those who wanted to know best practices in order to stay safe. Our team knew it was critical to present strong, unambiguous recommendations about purpose, construction, materials, and handling to ease the initial discomfort of the idea of masks.
We devised a communications strategy of continuous, relentless, high-quality information deployment. The Covid Action Cowichan management team had private discussions every day about the newest articles and research.
We debated the best articles to share, reaching out to experts as necessary to vet and shape the information we presented in the group.