While doing some research in preparation for our Annual Meeting, I kept seeing the same phrase popping up over and over again: “The Zoom era.” It started to stick and eventually pushed me to ask myself: What is “community” in “The Zoom era”?
Many of us have eased into the video conference experience as a requirement of our times. To keep ourselves safe from COVID-19, we talk to our family, our co-workers, our teachers, and our friends through a little camera attached to a screen. I personally do it at least once a day for work. I will admit that my daughter was able to teach me a few tricks that I had no awareness of, and now I can make it look like I am attending the meeting from the beach — even when I’m just sitting at the foot of my bed with the door shut. As a board, we have run our meetings in just this manner for months. It is an amazing technology that a short time ago seemed like science fiction. We can talk to people on the other side of the globe as easily as if they were just down the street.
I was wondering if I was starting to get comfortable with that ambiguity of distance. What about the people down the street?
When I go out to shop now (a twice-in-a-week excursion instead of a twice-a-day jaunt), I know I’m not entering the space in the same way as I had before. This isn’t about the mask, or the hand sanitizer, or the cleaning protocol I have for myself as I get into the car, although those things are different too. My pre-COVID shopping trips probably took the same amount of time as my current ones, even if it was just to run in for butter and eggs so I could make pancakes on a Saturday. Because I would run into friends and board members and I would take time to chat with staff until eventually, I’d get a text calling me home. I’m not the same wistful shopper I had been, carefully considering the best Cara Cara orange for my needs. I’m just happy to see Cara Caras on the shelf and a few will do. It’s convenient, but I’m not certain I’m always being fully present as I move down the aisles. I am trying to challenge myself to be in the space, and aware, and grateful for the vendors and staff helping us through these tough times.
We have our Annual Meeting coming up on October 23. An invitation, with details, will arrive in your mailbox soon (along with this year’s Annual Report). We will meet online, we will vote online, and we will honor our Cooperators of the Year online. I am going to be doing my best to be there and be present. I look forward to connecting with you via my computer screen and being in community together.