Illustration by Sarah Coleman
Thanks to COVID-19, what matters now depends on who you ask and where they live, perhaps more than ever. Some parts of the world have gotten the coronavirus more under control than others, but hotspots continue to emerge and reemerge, with restrictions lifted and then reinforced to try to tamp down the virus’ spread. We’ve all been in various stages of lockdown for months now, living in a new world order in which a return to regular travel and face-to-face events seems to be a longer time in the making than we first imagined.
What have we learned during this time? First, we hope, compassion for those whose loved ones have succumbed to the virus. Their lives can never be replaced. Others have lost their livelihoods in the economic fallout of the pandemic — a tragedy of a different kind.
We all read the statistics about the pandemic’s toll on human life and the economy. They’re mind-numbing and yet we struggle not to become inured by them.
At the same time, we can’t be so consumed by what’s been taken from us that we fail to see what has been left behind, and what we have the power to change for the better.
What’s at the heart of the business events industry — bringing diverse people together, fostering communities, making connections, raising awareness and consciousness, sharing knowledge, and moving society forward — is still what matters now. We just need to think about it, and do it, differently.
That’s what we’d like you to come away with as you read the following collection of stories that are specifically or tangentially related to events. It may be difficult to run a single thread through them — we explore everything from the power of digital events to reach large, global audiences and to enable access for those with disabilities in ways face-to-face events can’t, to how a security guard at a cowboy museum became a social-media sensation. We talk about Black Lives Matter, food waste and recovery, how the pandemic may destigmatize mental illness, and yes, pivoting to the new normal. Taken together, they’re about reinvention, in big and small ways — a message that we hope resonates with you.