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Finding Illumination During the Pandemic

By Luke Barrow:

Raise your hand if you’re a parent, home with your kids in a seemingly endless daily pandemic loop, fixated on our national story, scared of what comes next, and all the while doing your best to maintain a sense of normalcy for your kids.

You can put your hand down now; I can’t see you anyway.

Luke Barrow & his daughters

I’m Luke Barrow. I live in Oregon with my wife and two daughters, ages 16 and 9. As you know, the past five months have been a weird slurry of augmented daily routines and constant parental reminders: wash your hands, keep your distance, go out and play but don’t hug your friends, don’t worry—then repeat all of that the next day. It’s been weird.

It’s also been illuminating. Our home now doubles as a playground, a movie theater, a botanical garden, and a restaurant. The pandemic has taught us to make the most of what is right in front of us. Now, don’t get me wrong, we live in a very modest house in a modest neighborhood, and our yard is not a botanical garden. But to a nine year old growing tomatoes in our garden, it may as well be. If I can build a tree-swing that rivals anything at a playground, that’s a major dad score.

We’re not alone. Over the past four months "do it yourself" home and garden projects have seen an increase like never before; the result of countless parents like us trying to create a microcosm within the confines of our own property. We’re nesting in a whole new way.

In July, a friend of mine gave me a great idea: create a YouTube channel of DIY videos for the home, garden, and family. Share my quirky, low-budget, upcycle DIY projects with other creative parents looking to improve their home and garden spaces. I took my friend’s advice and launched the CoolHandLuke channel. Every week, I post a new video of a low- to no-budget project that usually involves an upcycled item.

Halloween is right around the corner. How do we handle it this year? What can we rig up in our yard so that trick-or-treaters can visit our home safely?

That question led to an idea; the idea led to a video on YouTube. If you, too, are curious and need a little inspiration in the next few weeks, check out the video. While there I’d be honored if you subscribed to the channel, like the video, and leave me some feedback in the comments section. Creativity is meant to be shared, so please tell your friends and family about my crazy videos.

And hang in there! It looks like we have several more months of being home, which means we still have more opportunities to improve our own little worlds. That sounds illuminating to me!


Luke Barrow is a dad, an artist, and a creative builder. Originally from NC, Luke worked for 20 years as a location scout in the film and TV production industry. He also started a business of building natural, rustic structures and furniture, and those creations can be seen nationwide at botanical gardens, universities, and in the backyards of hundreds of clients. Luke’s new YouTube channel, CoolHandLuke, is his latest venture, featuring DIY projects for the home, garden, and family with a focus on upcycling, creativity, and family.

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