Day 121, July 15, 2020

Artifacts of the Pandemic

Today's Soundtrack: Steve Gadd Band, Jazz San Javier 2019

The other day I read an article in the New York Times about how museums were starting to collect artifacts from the pandemic (I'm not sure this is the right article, but it was similar). One of the artifacts was someone's daybook that tracked all the cancellations after the person fell sick with Covid-19. 

A blue heron in the distance.
The less optimistic part of myself started wondering if we should really be collecting artifacts of what life was like before the pandemic. Will we need to remember what it was like to dance in a room full of strangers? To shout and whistle at a band? To embrace someone you just met? Or to invite a friend to taste a bite of something off your plate? What things did we navigate with such ease that will be different moving forward? 

I remember after engaging in college debates about arming campus police and the accompanying studies of school shootings, the accompanying trainings of how to respond, I then went to a large rock concert in Boston on the harbor. I don't go to large rock shows very often anymore, so it was a fun rollicking show (Living Colour, Dinosaur Jr., and Jane's Addiction) held in the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, I think. A wonderful setting on the harbor that felt like a festival with the strange myriad of aging former misfits and other odd fellow humans who rarely intermingle except in settings like this. It was marvelous and fascinating, but through it all I was hypersensitive to the size of the crowd, the vulnerability of a pavilion on the harbor, and how hard it was to turn off that awareness and just enjoy the music. My head was stuck thinking about tragedies and trainings.

Luckily, I was able to tamp down my thoughts enough to enjoy the show, and I got to shake Vernon Reid's hand after their set and say, "Mr. Reid, that was awesome!" That was pretty cool.

In today's paper there was news about promising progress on a vaccine. That seems like the first glimmer of good news about the virus that we've had in quite some time. Larger scale testing may happen by October, and who knows, perhaps by this time next year (or sooner) we will be lining up for shots instead of nasal swabs. But, I imagine it will take some time for us to get used to trusting our environment again. The freewheeling nature of humanity may allow some of us to revert to our reckless ways, but for others of us, it may take longer. Or perhaps, the advent of a vaccine will unleash a hedonistic bacchanal that has been pent up for however long it will be by then.

In some ways, I suppose it is a good thing to be reminded of the fragility of our existence. To be reminded of our mortality. I think as a creative person, the refrain for much of my life has been about what I will leave behind. But, I am enjoying the ethos my mom espoused that I wrote about last night, about what I will let go of... what gifts of love can I share with others? I think that is how I will heal when this is all done. That is so much more pleasing than trying to measure the obscure publications, recordings on obsolete media, and filled but unread notebooks.

So, maybe the artifact I would want to preserve after the pandemic is the desire for connection, the need for reflection. In part out of necessity, that has become a structured thing in my life, a priority, and isn't that a marvelous gift? I treasure the time I get to video conference with my parents, my kids, the chance to write and think back over the day, and of course it is always cool to watch Steve Gadd on the kit.

Stay healthy and be well,

Franklin enjoying the day.

From Our Friends:

From the Culture Research Network:

The Certificate in Creative Placemaking program is designed to grow and nurture leaders to help communities heal, recover and become more resilient through creative placemaking. Produced by New England College and The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, it has helped professionals and academics grow their careers, start consultancies, get funding for projects, or otherwise further their missions.   Please join us for an information session today, July 14 at 12 pm eastern or 6 pm eastern.  To learn more or register, please go to:

From ACE Engage:

[Plenary Webinar] DACA and Dreamers: A Conversation with Jose Antonio Vargas and President Mildred García of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Join García and Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of the best-seller Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, and a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, generously supported byFidelity Investments

From The Key podcast:

Episode 13: Equity and Higher Education Policy
The pandemic has exposed and worsened equity gaps in higher education. To help grasp the scope of the challenge and how colleges are trying to close the gap, we spoke with Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. We also spoke with Kim Cook, executive director of the National College Attainment Network, about doubling federal Pell Grant awards and other policies she'd like to see enacted.

From Academic Impressions:

Create a Culture of Cross-Campus Open Dialogue
July 16, 2020 | Virtual Training
Learn how to engage your toughest critics to build a culture of cross-campus dialogue and belonging.

From Campus Technology:


  1. Hey Leo, I'm just dropping in to let you know that when I think about gifts the pandemic has given me, one of the things on my list is this blog! I've enjoyed reading some of these stories, musings, and reflections so much. Thank you for writing them and sharing them.

    1. Thank you for reading, Jen! I hope you are doing well and hanging in there.


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