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Front Step Project: Amada & Frost

Welcome to another #columbiaheights #frontstepproject brought to you by MarKei Photo & Video. I began this initiative to facilitate connecting the humans in my city, to celebrate our diversity, and share our challenges during this pandemic and beyond. If you’re enjoying this series, please share. To support my photography, like & follow MarKei (on FB, IG, Twitter, &/or YouTube). To be notified of new posts, subscribe at markeiphoto.com. We are still offering socially distant photography in MN, so feel free to reach out!

Amada and Frost have known each other for 18 years through friend circles but then became a couple and bought a home together in Columbia Heights 7 years ago.

Frost presently works as a Product Designer, designing software and hardware for printers. His company makes the signs on the floor that you see when you go grocery shopping that say, "practice social distancing". They never break down, crack, or fade and are usually used underwater or in industrial buildings, space crafts, or laboratories. These kinds of labels and stickers permanently adhere to surfaces that tend to get abused a lot. Frost designs the printers that make these labels. He had previously designed props and special effects up until 2008. His employer has had to do several rounds of layoffs and mandatory furloughs due to COVID19. Frost expressed concern about the industry and about employability should he be laid off. He mentioned that after 9/11, the first people to be let were software people.

Meanwhile, Amada works for the Columbia Heights Public School district as the Adult Enrichment/Senior Program Manager. For the last two years, she has been planning the adult community education classes. Due to COVID19, however, 95% of their Spring classes had to be canceled. Amada did, however, have their first online class "Islam & Christianity" which was a part of a section of classes entitled "Culture & Equity" provided by "HeightsNEXT and the Islamic Resource Group". Amada has been able to check on past students either by phone or email but she says it’s not the same as seeing everyone in person. She especially misses the senior citizens and the day trips and tours they would take together. COVID19 has yet to otherwise affect her job other than working from home.

When I asked Amada and Frost about stress or anxiety during this time, they said that "anxiety" isn't a word they use very often but at the beginning of the Stay Home order they had the same worries as everyone. They are very resilient types and focus on moving forward, they are inspired by a quote from Frozen 2: "Do the next right thing."

When I interviewed them, they were in the process of building a hen house, which they have since completed and it now has hens and eggs already! They were given the hens from a community member. Amada shared that she grew up on a hobby farm in Wisconsin so they ate a lot of eggs which has resulted in Amada being a big "breakfast person". Frost hadn't eaten nearly as many eggs until he met Amada. With the pandemic, having extra time, and canceled vacations, they've been wanting to focus on efforts to move their food needs to be independently sourced.

Amada, as my readers may know, has also been campaigning for mayor of Columbia Heights. She says her campaign has involved a lot more sitting at her computer than anticipated. She was really looking forward to door-knocking, meeting people, getting feedback, learning what people are looking for in their mayor, but with COVID19, it's been very hard to reach out to people which has been disappointing for her. Amada spends some of her time on webinars every week, learning about campaigning in the age of COVID19. She learns from other women and groups which helps her feel like she's not on her own. She loves her campaign team and values the support from the community.

When I asked them if this time is putting stress on their relationship, Amada said she couldn't imagine being "stuck" with anyone better than Frost. They've been collaborating to "Marie Kondo" their house, going through their belongings, cleaning up! They have four adult children. One of their children lives in Massachusetts and the other three live in town but they haven't seen them during COVID19. However, always creative, they make time to do a Zoom Dungeons & Dragons with the kiddos every week.

Amada and Frost get takeout from a local restaurant once a week. They want to support local businesses. They also enjoy gardening and working with other friends, volunteering at the Blooming Sunshine Food Forest at Lomiaki Park. Though, they admit it would be more fun if there wasn't a pandemic.

It's just the two of them at home right now and they feel very fortunate that they're healthy and are employed. They wanted me to share with the community that they are available if anyone needs help right now. Amada said that if this pandemic had hit in a different time of her life, things would have been so much worse for her. They both feel so lucky and grateful that they have the space to help others and they want to support those who are experiencing a tougher time.

To learn about Amada's campaign for mayor, visit: www.voteamada.com

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#FRONTSTEPPROJECT: If YOU want to be featured, message me! It is free for Columbia Heights residents. Donations to SACA Food Shelf & Thrift Store are encouraged. Special priority for residents who are members of a disenfranchised community, essential workers (particularly healthcare) or local businesses. Please share this opportunity with your neighbor who may not be on social media.

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