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What the Pandemic Reveals–the Fourth of Four Conversations

Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

What’s your vision of a “new normal” that’s a “better normal”–a better world after the pandemic?

We keep talking a lot about what will be the “new normal” after the pandemic. What if the new normal could be a better normal? What if we could build a better world after the pandemic? What would it look like?

It may be hard to imagine your ideal world in these disrupted times. It may seem too unrealistic. But it’s hard to reach a hoped for destination if you never picture it, if you never express your hopes. This exercise of sharing different visions for a better world after the pandemic was the core focus of the final event in our Virtual Concerts and Conversations series. We also talked about the bright spots we’re noticing during the pandemic–positive things we that we could amplify or build on for a better world. In the notes below you’ll find some of the participant’s thoughts. What is your vision of a better world? What are you noticing as bright spots that we could amplify for a better normal?

This Virtual Concerts and Conversations series was a collaboration of Culture Saves, the DC Office on Aging, IONA, and the Interactivity Foundation. If you’re interested in what we talked about in our prior conversations, you’ll find the first session notes are here, the second session notes are here, and the third session notes are here. We hope to announce a summer series in the near future.


1) A greener world

We’ve noticed…

  • People are walking and biking more—and driving less. There’s less traffic, less noise, and less air pollution
  • People are growing more of their own food
  • People are getting out and enjoying green space

 

Let’s build on this for a world where…

  • We prioritize human-generated movement, pedestrian and bike-friendly spaces, and focus less on cars
  • We have better and more inclusive public transit
  • We have more accessible greenspace for all, including space for gardening and walking in nature, even in urban areas

2) A slower paced, more balanced, and more “present” world

We’ve noticed…

  • People are taking time to notice what’s around them, trying to be more present
  • People are connecting more with neighbors and community members
  • People are rebalancing their home and work lives

 

Let’s build on this for a world where…

  • Everyone’s lives can be more balanced around what really matters
  • People can be more present in their lives and for each other

 


3) A kinder more caring world

We’ve noticed…

  • People are acting kinder, more generously, and expressing concern for each other
  • People are being more observant of each other, more patient and gentler with each other,
  • How important culture (art, music, etc.) is for fostering social connection

 

Let’s build on this for a world where…

  • We focus on creating and sustaining a culture of kindness, patience, and gratitude
  • We foster a greater sense of community, building stronger family and social networks
  • We show less materialism and more love and empathy for each other and the planet
  • We prioritize collaboration toward the common good rather than competition for private benefit
  • We provide more inclusive cultural experiences, with public art and music

4) A more just and equitable world

We’ve noticed…

  • How interdependent we all are, locally, nationally, globally
  • How essential it is to have access is to things like healthcare, housing, food, education, communication technology (devices and the internet), especially when dealing with the primary and secondary effects of the pandemic
  • How many people are vulnerable in our society and in our world because they lack access to these things
  • How technology has helped create more inclusive opportunities and provided access to social connection, remote-working, education, and more

 

Let’s build on this for a world where…

  • We recognize that we are all in this together and so we make sure no one is left out, watching out for the most vulnerable and those who have previously been excluded
  • People have equitable and universal access to essential resources like healthcare, housing, food, education, communication technology, etc.
  • We distribute public resources in a way that takes care of the common good, rather than allocating resources by the profit motive
  • We make sure that everyone feels like a valuable, contributing member of society, by creating a universal jobs program, where everyone can work in some way
  • We make sure that every job provides a living wage
  • We focus on addressing global inequalities, with investments from the global “haves” to the “have nots” to reduce disparities, rather than the “haves” continuing to exploit the “have nots”

 


5) A world of responsive citizen-centered democratic governance

We’ve noticed…

  • Person-to-person and community-based actions are at the forefront of dealing with the pandemic
  • It’s essential to have governance and political leadership that is responsive to the needs of the people
  • Representative democracy seems to work best at small scales with mechanisms for input, citizen policy formation, and transparency
  • Young people are often out front in showing us the way toward more forward-thinking and inclusive policies

 

Let’s build on this for a world where…

  • We have new effective and responsive political leadership that looks to the common good instead of the good of special interests
  • We have more and better pathways for democracy, including multiple points of access, and increased opportunities for inclusive citizen participation in deliberation and formation of policy
  • We vest more political power in local, small-scale democracy, with mechanisms to assure diverse, inclusive, and genuinely representative participation
  • We have more responsibilities as citizens for public engagement or service
  • We look more to young people for political leadership