Lessons from the First Wave

Image (c) Invisible Hands

As of this month, the majority of the global population has been impacted by the pandemic for more than a year. For the first time in a century, pretty much everyone on the planet has experienced the same disaster at the same time.

And while most of us have had our daily lives disrupted in significant, and in many cases catastrophic, ways, there has also been an incredible outpouring of support for one another.

At first hidden beneath the surface, a groundswell of grassroots action emerged in the face of the pandemic; growing rapidly in both scope and scale. These community-led responses often formed spontaneously by individuals and groups who recognized the immediate needs of those around them.

With the daily case count continuing at a high rate in many countries, now is a good time to pause and ask the question: what have we learned from dealing with the pandemic over the past year?

On March 16th, we partnered with Idealist to host a public presentation and discussion based on our free ebook, “Lessons from the First Wave: Resilience in the Age of COVID-19.”

We recorded the audio from the event and have made it available on The Response, a podcast series from Shareable exploring how communities are building collective resilience in the wake of disasters.

In addition to the extended talk I deliver at the beginning of the episode, you’ll hear short presentations from two mutual aid organizers from Idealist’s global network, Liam Elkind, the co-founder of Invisible Hands in New York City, and Shila Jassal coordinator of Mutual Aid Road Reps – Let’s Get Chatty Service in Medway, UK, before we open it up for a discussion with the live audience moderated by Carol Walton, a Community Organizer at Idealist, who co-hosted this session with us.

Listen to Lessons from the First Wave on The Response Podcast here (or on the app of your choice):

About the speakers:


Tom Llewellyn is a community organizer, storyteller, and consultant promoting people-powered solutions for the common good. He’s the strategic partnerships director for Shareable.net, executive producer and host of the award-winning documentary and podcast series “The Response,” and the co-editor/author of several books including “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons,” “The Response: Building Collective Resilience in the Wake of Disasters,” and “Lessons from the First Wave: Resilience in the Age of COVID-19.

Twitter: @Shareabletom TED Talk: Building Collective Resilience in the Wake of Disasters

Invisible Hands

Liam Elkind is the co-founder of Invisible Hands, a community-based group of over 10,000 organizers and volunteers in the NYC area who deliver groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities to those at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the elderly, immunocompromised, sick, and disabled. They practice all safe distancing guidelines to keep themselves and their communities safe, and become friends with the people whom they deliver to, socially engaging while physically distancing.

Mutual Aid Road Reps: Let’s Get Chatty Service

Shila Jassal is the coordinator of Let’s Get Chatty Service which was launched by Mutual Aid Road Reps to help residents in Medway, UK, during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, who are in need of a simple conversation, and a sympathetic ear. They are a group of volunteers who are available to speak with anyone who’s been cut off from their support structures at this time – be that community, friends, or family. With over 7,000 shielded residents in Medway, they aim to bridge the gap of isolation with this simple act of kindness.

Episode credits:

Tom Llewellyn


Tom Llewellyn | |

Tom Llewellyn is the interim executive director for Shareable, a nonprofit news + action hub promoting people-powered solutions for the common good. As part of his role at Shareable,

Things I share: Food, Stories, Time, Skills, Tools, Cars, Bikes, Smiles, Clothes, Music, Knowledge, Home, Land, Water, and Stone Soup!