No one is looking back at the past couple of years with an overall sense of fondness.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to infect not only thousands of people every day, but every corner of our lives as well. From wearing masks in public spaces, to weathering multiple vaccination shots, to going to the store and finding our favorite snack out of stock because of supply chain issues, it seems all of this will never end.
But with all the tragedy and pain, there has been good. A new respect for our first responders and those who work every day on the front lines. A better appreciation and concentration on not only our own health, but also a better understanding of seeing how our own actions affect others. And, of course, the sense of giving each of us seem to have discovered, knowing that despite our misfortunes, there are others who are far less fortunate than ourselves.
The pandemic also has done something else: It’s reminded us that despite how advanced we feel we’ve come as a society, we’ve also been far too comfortable embracing the ways of old. Many jobs, for example, that required its employees to travel to a physical workspace outside of their homes, found those same people can simply work from home.
That won’t work for everyone, of course. Many jobs still require on-site presence, and then there are many others who prefer to keep their home life separate from when they have to punch a timeclock.
But we also discovered that we don’t necessarily have to schlep out every single time we want to participate in local government. For us here in New York City, there’s nothing more local than our community boards.
Community Board 8 has more than a dozen meetings every single month, covering almost every aspect of life for each of us. But participating in every single one is hard, especially if it requires always putting on your coat and heading out the door.
The pandemic showed us there can be better ways. And yes, they are ways that include the word “Zoom.” What was, at first, a process fraught with problems has now become something that works smoothly and conveniently. Now you can listen or even take part in a number of meetings by those who make decisions affecting your life, without ever having to leave home.
This little piece of technological heaven is set to end next month, although many expect the legislature will extend it at least through 2022. But maybe those in the Assembly and state senate should consider something more: Let’s make it permanent.
That’s not to say we don’t want in-person meetings anymore. Of course we do. But there’s no reason why we can’t have both — in-person and the ability for anyone to sign on remotely.
It might seem like something out of Star Trek, but it’s technology we’ve had for many years. It just took a pandemic to realize it’s something we needed.