A conversation about what we should keep from pandemic life — and what we can now reimagine, curated by Globe Opinion.
“A reminder of how much small businesses matter to us. They not only make neighborhoods & downtowns feel unique, but they contribute to the local economy with jobs, and they're the first ones to contribute when a local charity needs donations. We supported local [businesses] before but now we're taking extra thought to order takeout from more than our usual places, and realizing we can order from a local bookstore online just as easily as Amazon.”
“A must keep is a deep appreciation for teachers. We now have a much better understanding of their talent, skill, patience, and good humor. We also have undeniable proof that they're the linchpin of our society. If the kids don't go to school, we don't get to go to work. Please remember that the next time your local teachers are at the bargaining table.”
“Losing my retail shopping habit. Since being in sweatsuits for 6 months, I've stopped worrying about keeping up with the latest fashions. My DIY tie dye/bleach applications are so much more fun!”
“As an essential worker, at a home improvement store, the appreciation I have received from so many people for being there so they can redo their space from painting and remodeling to gardening. We sold lots of flowers 🌸 this year!”
“The pandemic has been a reminder to everyone that service workers are the backbone of a functioning society. Unfortunately, not everyone is getting a wage that reflects how essential they are, so I’ve been tipping a lot more (30-50%) at places like restaurants, coffee shops, and hair salons. At the very least, we should all be saying “thank you” more often, like many folks did at the start of the pandemic.”
“Everyone is together facing a common struggle. It has stretched our collective creativity to problem solve, and in some cases manifest new arts and interests.”
“None. The pandemic is preventing humans from needed interactions with others - a condition already on life support because of social media and video games. The next generation is in real trouble if we don't go back to 2019 soon.”
“Customer service has come back; deliveries, curbside pickup and pre-ordering feel like the old days!”
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From Zoom dates to elbow bumps, coronavirus altered the way we live our daily lives practically overnight.
Creating new social habits — and getting rid of old ones
“[I would keep the recognition] that all of the mundane, everyday things I didn't give a second thought to — going to a workout class, engaging strangers in conversation in line at the grocery store, riding the subway at rush hour, grabbing coffee with a friend — weren't mundane at all but instead provide connections that are essential to the fabric of society. And realizing that those small moments are what make everyday life feel meaningful.”
“With the pandemic, [my family] established a weekly, Sunday Zoom dinner and it has been a wonderful means of staying updated and connected. We eat together and then linger, talking about the latest events in our lives and of course, the larger issues going on in our country and the world. This has become an established tradition that will continue well beyond 2020, and one for which I am extremely grateful.”
Sharon Veronique Kreder
“I'm writing now, frequently; I'm making cards for all occasions; baking on a regular basis and reading non-stop....all guilt free; I have the time because staying home protects my neighbors.”
“As a society we are more open to talking about personal/public health and more honest about individual tolerance for risk.”
“Being an eye witness to my toddler’s rapid development. Hugs and kisses on demand. Home cooked meals. Landscape projects in our urban backyard.”
“Spending more time with immediate family. It’s been wonderful hearing the sounds of kids playing outside with siblings and parents this past year. Some of these kids had never played outside in their yard before and it was nice to listen to their laughter and see them playing outside for the first time ever.”
“Being with my wonderful partner. Everyday. All the time. Being an active present part of each others’ days and rhythms.”
“The circumstances of the pandemic brought faculty in my College even closer together. I also became more acutely aware of the dynamic teaching and service activities performed by my colleagues.”
“Being more thoughtful about how our neighbors are living. Realizing that being forced to live inside yourself can be a powerful change from our sense to diversions.”
“Consent culture is growing. Let’s keep it. If I’m going to meet a friend in person, I’ll ask them, are you comfortable if I don’t wear a mask while we’re outside? I would like us both to wear masks inside. How far should I stay from you while we are inside? They might return the favor, or not, but they are always respectful of my asking and my preferences.”
“Family zoom get together meetings. We have them once a month. I am more connected to members of my family who live far away than I have ever been.”
“Not feeling that I “should” get out of the house and visit other people. I like my house and I enjoy staying home.”
“More live streaming of events — live shows and concerts (for a fee), life events such as weddings, funerals for those who can’t make it due to distance or infirmity, and government meetings like town board and school board.”
“I like the quieter pace of life; the lack of traffic. I like it when strangers care enough about me to wear masks, but still acknowledge my existence with a bow, a wave, a word.”
“I'm not expected to go out all the time, especially to bars. I'm an introvert, so I've been training for it my whole life.”
“Time to garden, work on home projects, cook, read.”
“Less pressure to participate in things I don't really care about.”
See more 👇
Keep the Change
We should become a cashless society once and for all
“Ordering groceries and other household items from Walmart, on my iPhone. Also given a choice of times for pick. Some locations have delivery service. For this 80 years old lady, I hope I never have to go to a retailer again.”
N Ruth Vaughter
“Not having to sign our name for credit card purchases.”
“What I’ve liked about the lockdown is the fact that I don’t have to worry about waiting in long lines when I go into a grocery store to buy food. It’s so much easier to get groceries delivered, and to have the delivery person(s) just put the groceries right outside my door, and then get them myself.”
Suddenly, pants are optional. Millions of people started working from home during the coronavirus, raising the prospect that the workplace of the future has arrived.
Ditch the Office
Let's make working from home permanent
“I love how much time I get to spend with my family now. Even though I'm working from home, I can always be around them and do all sorts of simple things together. It is such a feel-good feeling!”
“Working from home and being trusted as a professional to do the job I was hired to do effectively, efficiently and in LESS than 8 hours a day/5 days a week. Evaluations based on productivity and output, not on time spent in the office.”
“Keep working from home, at least part time. I wouldn't mind seeing/interacting with my coworkers 1-2 times per week. But otherwise, my commute seriously sucked.”
“Remote work. I am aiming to get all the paper aspects of my job digitized so I don’t have to go into an office five days a week. I want the flexibility to work from where I choose.”
“Working from home, the time that I don't waste in traffic everyday, the pollution I'm not causing, the money I'm saving on gas and laundry (because, yeah, I don't wear pants now).”
“I know I'm not alone with this but working from home has been a Godsend. Commuting from just outside of Boston to Harvard Square was a daily drain - physically, psychically, and financially. Working from home has saved my sanity and my wallet from that horrid daily experience. I will never go back to working in an office 5 days a week!”
"I've been a fan of working from home. Not having to commute, and having greater flexibility in my day to see the people I love, while also staying (arguably more) productive has made for a better quality of life when it comes to work."
Before coronavirus, you couldn’t order beer with takeout food in Massachusetts. Good luck turning the clock back on that.
Take it outside
Reconnecting with public spaces and the great outdoors
“Quieter streets that are safer to bike on with decreased commuter cars. Cleaner air which does smell better. Skies that tell so much about decreased pollution levels. Always saying ‘nice day’ or ‘good morning’ while walking AND getting responses.”
“Freeing up city roads to have more protected bike lanes/pedestrian walkways.”
“I realize how much I love my house. Just looking out the windows, watching birds, squirrels, even moths and dragonflies. I'm grateful.”
"Slow time. Walking in the neighborhood and seeing so many people and pets out."
"Expanding pedestrian space and space for outdoor dining in cities. Please continue!"
"While the weather allows it, having more outdoor venues in general that can be taken advantage of more. Towns and areas limiting/blocking car traffic for more outdoor seating and walking areas in the seasons/places it makes sense especially is a good addition to communities.”
“On our neighbourhood walks, we encounter friends, neighbours, people we have seen before and strangers. All/all of them are more open and more friendly than pre-pandemic. This strengthens the feel of ‘neighbour’ in the ‘hood.’ ”
“Time to walk in and tend my garden every day.”
“I started biking around the city for the first time in hopes of avoiding the T and uber. With fewer cars on the roads than usual, it has been liberating and a great form of exercise. We need to continue prioritizing new bike lanes and cycling safety.”
“I like the fact that there's not so many people wandering around aimlessly, and that I was inspired to design some new artwork. I also like the fact that my online virtue Tae Kwon Do classes, knitting, listening to music, and talking/playing with my pet congo African Grey Parrot, Aziza, give me a lot of solace.”
Has the traumatic experience of a deadly pandemic changed the way Americans think about their country, their commitment to their neighbors, and themselves?
Make Democracy Better
Mail us ballots and make more public meetings virtual
“Mail-in voting expansion must be kept: look at the amazing voter turnout in MA primaries and general election. Voter registration online also is a big improvement. All lead to more people participating in our democracy.”
“I really appreciate how much easier it is to participate in club, school board and city council meetings. As a mom of young children all of these things are suddenly far more accessible to me.”