Emerge Online: Sensemaking the Coronavirus.

Last week Emerge hosted the first online gathering since the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.


26.3.2020
Last week Emerge hosted the first online gathering since the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 30 people joined the Zoom call from the UK, Germany, Sweden, France, Brazil, USA, Denmark, Ukraine, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands to connect, share and discuss what is emerging in relation to the coronavirus crisis.

The call started with a brief sharing of location and situation. Everyone spoke of concern for family and loved ones. One person was quarantined in a household experiencing the virus. Others also spoke of feelings of hope and curiosity at what would emerge as a result of the drastic ‘new normal’. 
“I think we need to learn and think while the crisis is upon us, and that means starting to learn and to think now.”
“It’s an intensely personal moment,” said Jonathan Rowson after everyone has finished their check in. “But equally people are sensing that there could be an opportunity in this, so I’d like to try and make sense of that a little bit.”

Callers from the UK, USA and Brazil spoke of the self-organised mutual aid networks appearing in their neighbourhoods and the possibilities for collaboration and cooperation that might arise from these newly formed connections, both during and after the crisis. 

Others spoke of the opportunities for large-scale systemic change. “This could be a great opportunity to transform a financial system that was obviously not working,” said Tomas Björkman. “There’s a risk that this will go the same way as the crisis in 2008, when nothing fundamental really changed. I think we need to learn and think while the crisis is upon us, and that means starting to learn and to think now.”
It's important to embrace and surrender to the uncertainty of the situation in order to allow for something new to emerge.
Many observed how this crisis had made previously invisible systems much more visible, as well as highlighting their fragility, and our dependency on them. “People who are on the edge of becoming systems thinkers are going to be pushed over, and that’s an incredibly powerful thing,” said one person.

In general, there was a cohesive sense that the situation was currently unfolding. As a lot still remains unclear it's important to connect with others, remain curious and surrender to the uncertainty of the situation in order to allow for something new to emerge.

Ending the call one participant spoke of the need to look at the ‘glocal’ and the ways the global and local interact with each other. “The stories that are being shaped at the moment are the ones we will all rely upon when this is over,” she said.

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Words by Tarn Rodgers Johns
Tarn is the lead editor of Emerge. Raised in the UK and based in Berlin, she is driven by curiosity and an incessant but largely unsatisfied desire to get to the bottom of everything. She is interested in psychology, human creativity and the changing world around us.