A Message From The President

May 2021

I recently read an article in the Atlantic, saying that people will go one of two ways post-Covid.  There will be “Team Yes,” people who accept every invitation, eat out most nights, and, in general, throw themselves into social activities and travel with abandon.  The second group, perhaps “Team Home” or “Team Couch” rather than “Team No,” are those who plan to go out less often post-COVID than they did before, having discovered that they prefer the slower pace.  The article postulates that the commonality between these two divergent groups will be that both desire to be more deliberate in how they spend their time.

Another article, however, talked about the billions of dollars that will be spent on advertising to convince people that they want normalcy and should get back to life as it was before COVID as quickly as possible, all based on the advertising principle that you need to discover the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product.  The problem with this analysis – or, at least, I hope it’s a problem – is that we’ve seen what slowing down can do, whether it’s a pollution-less LA or sea life in the canals of Venice or wildlife back in the cities.  On the less positive side, we’ve also seen a non-functional public healthcare system, 16 million people seeking unemployment benefits, and governments, both state and federal, with damaged credibility.  These and others are problems that already existed but went unnoticed until we slowed down enough, and dealt with enough problems, to see them.

So maybe the pandemic should be viewed as a huge gift, a chance to see the world as it could be.  If we want to be sure that our nation, our democracy, and our environment is sustainable, we need to pay attention to what we’re feeling and what we’re seeing right now.  Don’t let the great “return to normal” rush you.  Be deliberate – this is our amazing chance to create a new normal, to bring back only what works for each of us and what makes our lives more meaningful.

As it pertains to Athena, we’ve learned multiple lessons this past year, especially about member participation.  We’ve had record attendance at many events, albeit virtual.  I hope that Athena, too, will be deliberate as we slide back towards normal, reinstating in-person events but also noting what actually works better when done remotely.  Johanne will be sending out a survey soon, seeking members’ preferences on a number of attendance questions.  I hope that everyone will take the time to express their preferences, so that next year’s board and committee chairs can structure our activities in ways that permit continued participation with more camaraderie, but without some of the time consuming practices we used to use.  And I hope that each of you will take advantage of this amazing opportunity to determine what is – and what is not – important to you going forward.