April 2, 2020
What Would it Take?
Like the old curse goes, we live in interesting times. In the not so distant past, one could go to the grocery store and feel fairly certain of making it out without contracting a potentially life-threatening virus, and with a plethora of paper products to boot. A relaxing dinner out with a few friends was, relaxing. A job was a way to pursue one’s passion, or pay the bills, not something that had to be survived. A trip to the dentist inspired dread only of drills.
That was when we felt safe. We could choose to hold a door for a stranger, or not, based solely on our level of manners, or lack thereof. The diameter of a personal space bubble was in fact, a personal choice. There were even those who, bless their hearts, ate at buffets.
Over the recent months, many of us have begun to live in fear. Fear of strangers, of touching, and definitely fear of buffets. Granted, danger is everywhere, and always has been. And while jobs, houses, and even lives, have been lost each day since the dawn of jobs and houses, this feels different. Because this makes us, nearly as a whole, feel unsafe, which is in many ways more affecting.
This begs the question, what will it take for us to feel safe again? COVID-19 is a threat that we can’t yet efficiently identify or fight. The long incubation period of the virus means that none of us can claim with certainty that we are not ill, or a carrier. And while many would be quick to vouch for themselves, this is a situation where what is good for one must be good for all. In other words, if we cannot take our neighbor’s word on their state of well-being, (which for the record, we cannot) we certainly should not expect them to accept ours.
Humans are, at least to some degree, social creatures. The stress of abstaining from interactions with friends and family are certainly contributing factors to the current morale. Being unable to go to work, restricted from friends and family, and feeling at risk running simple errands inspire feelings of helplessness and isolation. Yet, we must all be conscienscious in order for this to pass. While these are words easily written by an introvert, they are written with the belief that there is no one who is not missing something right now. Some want to go out and support local restaurants. Some wish to visit the library. Many wish they could visit loved ones in the hospital, but are not allowed due to protocols. Several parents would love for their children to return to school. For all of us, step one is to contribute by not being part of the problem.
Until we can go to dinner, browse a bookstore, or take that cruise knowing that we are neither in danger or a danger, we must stay home. Until we can be certain that our employees and customers will be safe, we must continue to shutter or limit our business. However, in spite of these truths, we also know that long term closures will create more and greater economic issues. This is why we have come to believe that it is time to look to the future, the near future specifically, and consider the possibility that the choice between safety and work, or safety and entertainment, is a false dichotomy. Or at least, can be soon.
In order to be fully functional as an economy and as a society, we need to have a system that can quickly and reliably rule out infection. To move toward a safe new normal, we must choose the path of safety first, and just as importantly, we must be open to the possibilities of what “new” normal looks like. To that end, we intend to start a conversation. It is time to start considering more ways to protect those who have been tapped as essential, and their clientele. And, although we have to extinguish the fire before we can rebuild, it would behoove us to look ahead. To start entertaining thoughts about how best the technology currently in development can benefit us all. And to imagine what technologies will be most effective, and most needed.
At this time, our specific interest is in establishing effective ways to utilize said technologies in support of safety protocols in service of private venues. We plan on involving experts to help us explore possibilities, but all minds are welcome. Our focus includes, but is not limited to, testing, PPE, research, and legislation, particularly as related to small businesses. (Aka, the places we work, eat, and play.) This conversation concerns everyone, and everyone is invited. In fact, you’re already here: