4 min read

So What Comes Next?

So What Comes Next?

After many months of imagining life without lock downs or restrictions, increasing numbers of Canadians are finally in a position to cautiously embrace loved ones and life after double vaccination.

The big question is what that life will be like. This time the uncertainty is not because of the challenges that a viral attack creates but because of the very long pause we've had to consider that perhaps the world we've created isn't serving us - or at least not most of us - that well.

Here in BC, it's been a particularly graphic re-entry. The same week that the province announced the timeline for a full return to "normal", the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc announced the 215 unmarked graves found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. A few weeks later a killer heat wave hit southwestern BC and by month's end the town of Lytton was destroyed by a climate change-fueled firestorm that gave residents minutes to flee.

The thing I haven't been able to get out of my mind as these crises have unfolded  is that the problem with all of them isn't that governments didn't know: it's that they knew and didn't act.

As we swing out of the pandemic it's a mistake to believe that the injustices that were so visible during the pandemic will be what fuels governments moving forward. Change is always brought about by an energized public.

The question of what comes next then isn't just for government, its for all of us. Having seen what we've seen this past 16 months will we settle for going back to "normal" or are we ready to work together for a world where normal doesn't assume that suffering, loss and death are just part of doing business?

HOT TAKES

Earlier this year the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard asked me for my thoughts on what politics and public policy change would look like post pandemic. They took the conversation and illustrated it in this video On Politics: The Future of Civic Engagement. It runs c. eight minutes so if you don't have time for that, the punchline is that the opportunity right now is defining what "yes" looks like. (But if you don't watch it you'll never hear my explanation of the Schrödinger's cat of public policy!)

For those thinking that the pandemic provided a model for how governments can act on climate and other crises, it may have instead exposed the opposite. My case in the National Observer: Why Humans Aren't Hardwired to Respond Well to Crises

SOME JOBS

THINGS TO CHECK OUT THIS WEEK

Early on in the pandemic I resolved to spend as much time each day reading books and articles as I did reading social media. More than a year later I am still below target but it did cut down my social media time, convince me to write a newsletter and I do manage to read something substantial that's not on social media each day.

A lot of what I've read has been about pandemics, crises and opportunity so what's below doesn't represent anywhere near a complete list on the topic but rather some good provocations to start your own "so what comes next" reading list.

  • A friend sent me this article on The Long Shadow of the Future from Noema. I loved the article (and it's title) and fell in love with Noema and took out a subscription. It's one of my favourite weekly reads.
  • My other favourite weekly read is The Download, produced by MIT.  In addition to "your daily dose of emerging technology" - an important question in thinking about what comes next - they also include 10 articles they are reading which is a great way to get info you're interested in without the filter bubbles of social media. During the pandemic they also added a great section called "we can still have nice things" that has been my must-read source of wild, hilarious and inspiring news.
  • If you haven't come across her already, you need to check out Arundhati Roy. She writes many brilliant things but The Pandemic is a Portal will be the one that future generations will read to try and understand what we learned - or didn't - during this time.

Some longer reads that cut to the heart of the opportunity in front of us right now.

  • A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Rise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit
  • New World Coming: The 1920s And The Making Of Modern America by Nathan Miller
  • Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth

THE LAST WORD

Goes to…

  • A question: during the pandemic I spent a lot of time alone which led to learning how to do a lot of new things ranging from growing mushrooms to making a drum to inventing a near perfect summer cocktail. I'm torn on whether sharing this newfound knowledge is interesting content for a newsletter. Let me know what you think!
  • A song: partially because I can't get it out of my head and partially because It Is A Good Day (To Fight The System).
  • My thanks: to Boris Mann at FISSION for being even more annoyed than I was at not having my custom domain hooked up. Thanks to his patience I am now coming to you live from https://www.citizenandrea.ca/

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