Each summer — as the program year winds down — we invite Fellows to reflect on their experience. Erin Lungwitz, a young adult Fellow who served in the Twin Cities during the 2020-2021 program year, shares the songs that defined her QVS year.
My friends make fun of me because I recently said, “guys, I really like music,” as if this was an experience unique to me. So yes, I eccentrically like music.
Through the pandemic my appreciation for music and other small things – my morning coffee, a good porch – has escalated. I have always defined periods of time and seasons of my life by what songs I am listening to. But, I have defined eras of the pandemic even more so by what I listen to because as so many of my other activities and events have fallen away, music has remained.
QVS is a challenging experience, and that challenge is heightened when it is situated in a global pandemic. Music has helped get me through — feel less alone, feel more human, remember that the world is big and we are small, etc.
So, here are the songs that define my QVS year:
SEPTEMBER: Kyoto by Phoebe Bridgers
This song reminds me of the first bit of QVS and the fleeting hot days cooking dinner in the house kitchen.
OCTOBER: Landlocked Blues by Bright Eyes
I am new to Minnesota. I grew up in Austin, Texas and went to school in Washington, so this is my first time in a landlocked state (Texas DOES have a coast). This epic song, albeit dramatic, exemplified my mood as it shifted into a colder and gloomier season and it helped me cope with being landlocked (lakes don’t count).
NOVEMBER: American Shibuya Chanel by Jastefy
My site placement is the furniture bank Bridging. Bridging takes in furniture and houseware from donors and then, for a low fee, provides a basic home set-up for people transitioning out of houselessness or experiencing persistent low income. During mornings at Bridging I prepare clients for their virtual shopping appointments, and in the afternoons I load trucks with what clients have picked out and I go on deliveries. To energize myself for my transition from office-mode to warehouse mode, I’d play this song to get pumped.
DECEMBER: Sorry You’re Sick by Ted Hawkins
Unfortunately, a housemate became ill with COVID. As I cared for them, and quarantined myself we’d listen to this a lot. This song was a bright spot in the dismal era of intense quarantine.
JANUARY: Good Days by SZA
Because of the COVID exposure in December, I worked from home for a couple of weeks in January. I blasted this song throughout those weeks as a sort of manifestation. It’s a great song and an instant mood lifter.
FEBRUARY: Get In My Car by BRONCHO
Y’all, I’ll be the first to say it, Minnesota is COLD. My friend sent me this upbeat number and I instantly became obsessed with it. This song provided catharsis during negative temperatures.
MARCH: Free by SAULT
After 6 months at my site placement I finally gained the courage to become the unrequested warehouse DJ. I played this a lot at work – it’s fun and I even saw some people bobbing their heads as they loaded dressers onto the truck.
APRIL: Can’t Do Much by Waxahatchee
The entirety of the album that this song is featured on – St. Cloud – is gold. It’s a no-skip album for me. St. Cloud is largely upbeat but the album’s lyrics cover the artist’s struggle with alcoholism and heartache. The songs are cohesive despite the difference in the sound and the content, which is a beautiful thing to me. In addition, there is a town near the Twin Cities called Saint Cloud and I always thought the album title was related to that, but I just learned it’s about St. Cloud, Florida. I will still pretend it’s about Minnesota.
MAY: Fade into You (Cover) by Miley Cyrus on NPR Tiny Desk
Miley lets it rip in this song. I have always appreciated a song with a long build up (ex. Eastwick by Julia Jacklin, Night Shift by Lucy Dacus, I Know the End by Phoebe Bridgers) — there’s something really freeing about it. After over a year of pandemic-living, I think most of us want to let it rip in some way; we are all needing a big release. The whole pandemic I’ve been stunned about how daily life is so mundane – go to work, sit on the porch, think about stuff, go back to work – but living through a global pandemic is pretty dramatic. Something about a song with big drama allows me to acknowledge what an intense era this has been, despite the excruciating monotony of daily life. I listened to this every day of May; on my way to and from work, cleaning, cooking, etc. I subjected everyone I know to it including my housemates and my coworkers when I had my warehouse DJ shifts. Click here to see for yourself (also checkout the original, Fade Into You by Mazzy Star).
JUNE: Sweet Thang by Shuggie Otis
I’ve been in a music rut lately, as my time in QVS is coming to a close and I am preparing for my next phase of life. But, the other day this was on my Spotify Discover Weekly and something about the opening guitar stole my heart. You have to love someone with the name Shuggie Otis. Sweet Thang feels very warm to me and emanates the Minneapolis heatwave I’ve been marinating in on the third floor of our largely un-air conditioned house. Shuggie will get me through!
More about Erin
Erin Lungwitz graduated from the University of Puget Sound in May of 2020 with a double major in Religious Studies and Environmental Policy. In college she focused on neoliberalism and how it affects every aspect of U.S. culture – from religious institutions to prisons to relationships with the environment. She is originally from Austin, TX, has taken up knitting rags as a quarantine hobby (she’s at 54 rags), and gave bad advice on her college radio show. Erin has worked for the Twin Cities furniture bank Bridging during her QVS year and plans to stay in the Twin Cities and work at the YWCA day care for the foreseeable future. You can find her biking around a lake or asking someone what their favorite song is right now.
How does QVS decide where we operate or when to expand?
Building on many years of discernment, research, and consultation (including working closely with a network of other longstanding faith-based voluntary service programs), a vibrant team of supporters launched the pilot QVS service house in Atlanta, Georgia in the fall of 2012. This house was the first step in developing a growing network of QVS programs. QVS launched two more houses in August 2013 in Philadelphia, PA and Portland, OR. In 2015 we launched our fourth house in Boston, MA. In 2018 we opened our fifth house in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.
From our very beginning, we have been interested in opening programs that have a cross-branch Quaker community. Quaker meetings and churches in a city (or pair of cities, like Minneapolis / St. Paul) will each write a minute stating their desire to be a host community for the QVS program. The QVS board and staff look at these minutes of interest and discern where to open a new QVS program. Beyond their initial discernment, host meetings in each city are vital to the operation of QVS. Local Friends participate in the Local Support Committee (LSC) and as Spiritual Nurturers; they help to furnish the QVS home and bring over new pots and pans when the Fellows ask for them; they provide meals for QVS Days (bimonthly programming days led by QVS staff); and they provide spiritual support and accompaniment through the local Friends meetings and churches.
Although we have heard a lot of interest over the years in expanding QVS, the 5-city network works for us right now. And, for us, there’s a faithfulness in being the right size. We have the right number of applicants for Fellowship positions; we have a staff team where everyone knows one another’s gifts; and we have local Friends that we have real connections with. And there are still a lot of places we can grow within that model. This doesn’t mean we’ll never expand, but we’re not doing so right now.
Please be in touch with Hilary Burgin, our Executive Director, should you have questions about our 5-city network, or if you would like to be notified if we discern to open another location.
More Quaker Service Stories
Sam Wilson, a QVS Atlanta Fellow, shares about serving as a communications fellow with the Southern Education Foundation (SEF).
MaryGrace Menner served at Metrowest Worker Center – Casa del Trabajador during the 2017-2018 QVS year. Check out the following QVS Alumni Spotlight to learn about MaryGrace’s vocational path and how the key pieces of a QVS year stayed with her.
Adrian Nelson served at L’Arche Atlanta during the 2015-2016 QVS year. Five summers later, Adrian was deployed with a medical team to the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon. Check out the following QVS Alumni Spotlight to learn about Adrian’s vocational path and the...