To state the obvious, the impact of COVID-19 on our community, our country, and our world has been profound. And, while it’s not our place to parse all of the ramifications stemming from the pandemic, this tumultuous period has brought with it numerous shifts that, moving forward, we hope will be successfully incorporated into our actions, our thoughts, and our communities. The past year-and-change has, for many, ranged from anxiety-inducing to unimaginably devastating, and we hope that, despite all the loss, pain, and suffering, SLC might benefit in some way from that which has been endured. As we all hopefully begin to put the pandemic in our rearview, here are the holdovers we hope stick with our city for the foreseeable future…
1) Greater awareness of our city’s diversity and the specific needs of its various communities: For all the things we love about SLC (and there are many), we know that diversity has never been her strong suit; sadly, this reality was something that far too many of us sat far too comfortably with for far too long. Both inclusion and representation are vital to this state’s (country’s/world’s) ecosystem, and neither means much without the other. The growing pains of last year certainly showed us all where many of the flaws in our community are, and we hope our little city will continue to do all that it can to make our underrepresented neighbors feel seen, heard, and welcome.
2) Greater support for local businesses: The call to “support local” was certainly not a new phenomenon of the past year, but shutdowns caused the sentiment to grow in importance. For many of us, doing our part to keep our beloved local spots afloat meant forgoing the massive selections and free two-day shipping offered by large online retailers and instead emphasizing where rather than what we were buying. Even one eatery/shop/pit-stop shuttering its doors for the final time during Covid was too many––but we're grateful for those still standing and we’re personally resolving to help our locally owned spots stay afloat for years to come. A mode of consumption less focused on instant gratification and more oriented towards thoughtful decision making and keeping disposable income in-state is one we certainly hope takes root over the long run. Guess what? It grows the economy…
3) More accessible entry into (and support for) our local food scene: Restaurants and food industry employees were hit much harder than most by the pandemic. But in many ways, the adversity brought out all kinds of thoughtful ingenuity from these folks. Local organizations like Tip Your Server sprang up seemingly overnight, and the industry as a whole seemed to band together in support of those who were struggling most. We also saw many of our favorites, as well as a few new players, adapt lightning-fast to stay open and safe: patios sprang forth, carry-out was easier than ever, and a host of “micro-makers” cropped up (many of which can be found in our extensive takeout list) to bring us all of the flavor with none of the overhead. We hope this newfound adaptability (as well as these new faces) stick around long after masks are a thing of the past.
4) Greater appreciation for our natural surroundings (and practices based on preserving them): If there’s one unquestionable takeaway from Covid’s impact it’s the fragile nature of, well, nature. It seems many of us have been operating under the false pretense that we can continue to take from mother nature without fear of repercussion, but, as evidenced this year, all of that can change on a dime. We’re pretty small, y’all (see: March 2020’s earthquake/windstorm double-header that shook us all to the core), and this planet of ours deserves far more respect than she’s getting. For many, getting outside in 2020––be it for walks around the block or jaunts up a canyon––was instrumental in preserving health and sanity. With so many other activities off the table, outdoor recreation saw a substantial uptick that was equal parts encouraging and concerning. The more people that can take advantage of our state's natural splendor the better. However, increased traffic on trails, canyon roads, climbing routes, and more also underscored the importance of preservation. While environments around the world need to be treated with more care, locally, we hope that the pandemic galvanizes support for actions and policies that keep our natural environments healthy and vibrant for decades to come.
5) A renewed sense of commitment to our neighbors and communities: The outpouring of support by our neighbors for our neighbors was a beacon of beauty during a year that was otherwise pretty brutal. Programs like @covid19mutualaid SLC and @navajohopicovid19relief made a world of difference for folks in need of funds, food, water, and PPE. On a smaller scale, plenty of people took it upon themselves to spread baked goods, fresh produce, and home-cooked meals to their neighbors and loved ones. Others volunteered to grocery shop and run errands for those more at risk of complications. While the past year certainly saw far too many neighborly acts of kindness to chronicle, the overall sentiment of caring for those around you in direct, actionable ways is one that we certainly hope sticks around.
6) A deeper understanding of what makes us feel at home: The subject of “home” is one we’ll gladly discuss ad nauseum, and 2020 expanded our collective notion of the word 100-fold. What was once a metaphorical refuge from the world transformed into a literal one in the harshest days of the pandemic, and we found ourselves grappling with how to make our spaces functional and comforting in equal measure. We rearranged our rooms and adapted new rituals and routines. We made new connections and were reminded of the importance of intention when it comes to building our lives. Here’s to bringing that same mindset along when the world around us gets a little less uncertain (fingers crossed).
7) Continued courage in the face of change and a commitment to building a better future: In short, last year showed many of us that the only constant is change. While we’ll be adding all aforementioned touchpoints to our toolbelt, we’ll also be working on rolling with the proverbial punches, because “the new normal” is, essentially, the absence of what was comfortable before. And, with some effort, thoughtfulness, and TLC, we hope that will be a beautiful thing. As we advance forward into the unknown, we hope that people all over our little city dream big, question the status quo, and continue to exhibit the courage, perseverance, and ingenuity that might ultimately lead to a profoundly different way of doing things.