An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


Yearning to get out? Dig in.

Kelly's Run

There is something cathartic about digging through the dirt. The pandemic has turned many of us into semi-professional landscapers and hikers. I know that I for one have gone on more trail runs in the last month than I have in my entire life. That’s because while so often I think I am yearning for more social interaction, what I truly need is a break from it all.

As many have pointed out, social distancing is not, in fact, social distancing – it is physical distancing. On a Zoom meeting this week, 25 strangers and I unanimously agreed that somehow in the midst of all this we have found many of our connections growing deeper and wider than we have ever experienced. In the face of uncertainty and physical distancing, we have come to value our connection to our family, friends, and teammates more than ever before.

So if it’s not socializing… what’s missing?

There is a certain kind of magic that happens from meeting in person. Try as we might to replicate that connection on Zoom and over the phone, we all can agree it just isn’t quite the same. We are longing for a physical connection of sorts.

This is why we can find relief in gardening and hiking – it provides the physical connection that we are missing in our social interactions. That’s what I have found on the trails and what keeps me going back. I may be alone out there, but seldom do I feel more connected to something bigger than myself. Feeling the uneven earth beneath my feet, seeing beyond my screen into an open expanse, listening to the natural rush of the rivers. I leave each time fulfilled and connected, in a way my devices simply cannot hope to replicate.

So many of our problems are outside of our control right now, and I am not at all alluding that these problems will disappear with a trail run or a basil plant. But we can do some work. We can work on sheltering at home to keep others safe. We can work on our health with fresh air and exercise. We can work to preserve our planet so we can continue to enjoy it for generations to come. We can do this.

This is our opportunity to invest all the energy that we wish to spend outside our homes, into the earth and dig into ourselves a little deeper. Below are some resources to help us all do just that.

Community Resource

Not sure how and where to get plants for your home? Lancaster Tree Tenders is offering a free street or yard tree to anyone who requests it. As you can read on their website, these trees will work towards expanding our urban canopy which will improve our community’s water quality and protect our surrounding water systems.

Pennsylvania has kept parks and trails open throughout the pandemic. Look at this list of hiking spots and parks from Discover Lancaster to plan your social distanced trip.

Be the Helper the Helpers

LCSWMA @Home is an incredible resource from the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority to teach us about the ways that we can be conscious stewards of our environment simple through our daily at home disposals. This portal answers all your recycling questions, shows how they are transforming energy production, and how we can make a difference.


While not local, below is an inspiring photo of the environmental relief we are seeing as a result of decreased pollution in Dehli, India, which is one of many examples of clearer skies across the globe. From Bogota, Colombia to Bangkok, Thailand, several countries have experienced a drastic drop in pollution revealing the cleanest air and clearest skies that they have seen in recent memory, in the light of stay at home orders.

This made me ask myself, “How many planets do we need if everybody lives like you?” I took this footprint quiz and learned that it would take more than two Earth’s to support my lifestyle if everyone on the planet lived like me. Looks like I have found the opportunity to do some work on myself and the world around me.

Stay safe, stay well, stay active, stay hopeful!