Big Bear Connected, March 25, 2020

Members of Big Bear Connected group meet via Zoom conference call March 22 to discuss projects for the Facebook and YouTube group.

When a face-to-face real connection between people is taken away, the loss is not only felt in a physical way. Social, emotional and mental connections are also affected by the isolation.

Beth Wheat of Big Bear Lake saw a way to reconnect socially, emotionally and virtually by utilizing social media and the Internet. After talking to several friends in the Big Bear entertainment community, Wheat established a Facebook group called Big Bear Connected.

Big Bear Connected is an open channel for the Big Bear community and beyond to share gifts, talents, entertainment and information through live and on-demand web content. As of March 24 there are 115 members.

“Our mission is to get people coming together and experience content together so we have a connection that feels real,” Wheat said during a video Zoom conference between several members of the group on March 22. “This has brightened my heart to see all of you I know and love. This is the only way we can do it right now.”

Zoom is being used by the Big Bear Connected group to conduct live interactions. Zoom meetings could be used to conduct a variety of live interactions — musical performances, dance lessons, exercise classes, social get-togethers and more. Chirp Nature Center has licensed a Zoom account and will pay the monthly fee to allow up to 100 people to attend a Zoom interaction scheduled by Big Bear Connected.

Randy Putz, co-owner of Chirp, sees the opportunity for Big Bear residents to meet new people. One of his ideas is to create a Zoom interaction where people can meet in a virtual social environment. Chirp is also going to offer lessons on how to build a birdfeeder and will provide free bird seed from Chirp to those who participate in that project.

Retired educator Phil Hamilton is planning to do a series of live interviews with people around the Valley with the ability for people to ask questions after the interview. The segment, tentatively called Big Bear Profiles with Phil,  is based on his Big Bear Valley Education Trust project to invite people to talk to students in the classroom.

Hamilton said he has a list of 40 to 45 people he would like to interview. “There’s really some fascinating people here that people in the Valley might not know even exist here,” Hamilton said.

The interviews would last about 10 to 15 minutes with a Q&A session following.

Sharon Rizzo of MountainTop Strings and videographer Bob Perry are working to create a virtual strings concert program that will blend videos of past performances of the youth strings groups on Big Bear Connected YouTube with live interviews of student musicians, their parents and others on Zoom.

The Big Bear Connected hostess is Tori Waner, who will act as administrator for the project — overseeing content and scheduling. A schedule is in the process of being created. People in the group may request times and dates for their projects and ideas.

For now, Waner and Wheat will curate content. Waner is preparing an introduction and content bylaws video to post on the group’s various platforms.

“We want to keep this kid friendly,” Wheat said. In fact, one of Wheat’s ideas is to create a section, or channel, within the group that is a place for students and children to share content, projects and interaction.

The situation is fluid and events will be posted on the group’s Facebook page and through other avenues of media and social media. The Big Bear Grizzly will provide the public with an updated list of Big Bear Connected events via and in print.

The first event takes place Wednesday, March 25, at 6 p.m. when Kim Boda hosts a Big Bear Connected get together on Zoom. Called Breathe and Wine Down, it’s a Big Bear Connected happy half-hour. According to the event listing on Facebook, pour your own favorite beverage and join Boda for a 15-minute, calming exercise of breathing and quieting the mind from the stressors of the day. It’s followed by a 15- to 20-minute hang out chat session via Zoom to toast friends from the community.

There is limited Zoom live attendance to the first 100 people to sign up. Confirmation must be made on the Big Bear Connected Facebook event calendar.

Boda said the event will be on-going three times a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 p.m.

So, how can you become part of Big Bear Connected or just watch and take part in what the group will offer? For starters, join the Big Bear Connected Facebook group page and/or the Big Bear Connected YouTube channel. Download the Zoom app so you can participate in live events. Then watch the group’s calendar listings for upcoming events.

The group also plans to create videos, play lists and channels on its YouTube platform for members to utilize.

For those who wish to participate or have an event, lesson or performance to share, contact Wheat or Waner via the group’s page for more information.

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