“Fear comes from uncertainty; we can eliminate the fear within us when we know ourselves better” - Bruce Lee

As an organisation, we’ve decided to start a weekly journal to share our reflections from the Coronavirus outbreak.

Here’s what we learnt so far.

Victoria Lee, Lead Programme Manager on localism

There’s said to be a silver lining to every cloud, and maybe some lessons. In light of #Covid19, I’ve observed:

An enhanced sense of localism — Small shops and pop-ups providing essential goods no longer available in large stores and supermarkets. Local shop owners provide a sense of familiarity and neighbourliness in unsettling times.

The value of large, open spaces — Self-isolation would be unbearable to most if a visit to the outdoors for exercise, play etc were not possible. In larger open spaces, people can more easily practice social distance whilst enjoying the outdoors.

The design of internal spaces — Small spaces occupied over long periods can affect general wellness. In the future, how can we ensure more generous internal spaces (particularly in the context of high land values) to address emergency measures, such as social isolation?

Jessie Johnson, Programme Manager on running remote events

I thought I’d share a behind the scenes shot of me running Design Council’s first remote workshop with Design Associates Neal Stone and Sean Miller.

At this point the Wi-Fi network had bailed on us, I had commandeered a colleague’s laptop and was frantically trying to reconnect to the workshop (but still had time to pause and take a selfie!).

But it made me reflect. These times of crazy uncertainty and fast pace change have forced me to think differently about how we do life. We now have a huge opportunity to reshape how we work with people, places and partners and I am excited to get stuck in.

Thank you to the councils who jumped straight into this with us head first —no questions asked. London Borough of Merton, Lewisham Council and the Local Government Association. To those councils that couldn’t make it due to COVID-19, you’ll be next.

Sabina Mohideen, Programme Manager on isolation

In the initial days and weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government refrained from encouraging social distancing because they feared people would become fatigued and soon start to ignore the recommendation. Now four days after the Prime Minister suggested we limit social contact, social media is indeed inundated with posts about how people are already finding distancing a challenge. It is hard then not to consider our judicial and immigration systems which rely on incarcerating people in prisons and detention centres, often for lengthy periods, and wonder about our acceptance of these as integral parts of society.

Is this a moment for us to use our experience of isolation, albeit in vastly improved conditions to consider how to effect change in these institutions?Prison reform has long been a topic of conversation, as has the tireless work of those trying to highlight the plight of those in detention centres — is it now time for this discussion to enter the mainstream? I wonder whether this is possibly an opportunity for a greater proportion of us to bring greater humanity and innovation to an area that for too long has been taken for granted as necessary.

The views and opinions expressed in this journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Design Council.

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