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Home » Officer Columns » It’s 2021, and the Buzz is About Building Back Better

It’s 2021, and the Buzz is About Building Back Better

  -  International Executive Board Member and President of Local 105 (Spokane, WA)

Each one of us experienced this past year differently, a totally unique experience. For me, time sped by so fast that it felt like a month passed with every blink of the eye. I haven’t really had time to process it all yet. Glimpses of the shutdown, gathering, sifting, disbursing information as quickly as possible, what’s important, what’s interesting. Who can help, what’s a waste of time, how to tell the difference. Frenzy.

Seasons didn’t exist. No end of the symphony season, no summer concerts series, no season kick-offs. After the end of February, for the rest of the year there was nothing to differentiate time, just looking at the daily to-do list, Zoom meetings, Teams meetings, Web-Ex meetings, and plowing ahead. I didn’t even try to read a book until November 8. Catharsis.

It’s now 2021 and the buzz is “Build Back Better!” From the struggle to get unemployment for musicians and hearing from so many sources that maintaining sanity came from listening to music, watching tv and movies, reading books, the arts provided the semblance of humanity we have all been craving during this time of physical separation.

When it’s safe to gather again, live music will perform a central role in rebuilding our society as we rediscover what we have in common, redevelop shared values through shared experiences. It is important that we don’t lose that understanding of value and that we take it to the next steps of valuing our work. Solidarity.

Day to day, our situation is fluid and it’s hard to make predictions, but if the stars align properly, we could be in a good position to effect the much-needed changes that were identified well before this pandemic. So, before society rebuilds without us and makes the new normal look like the old normal, we need to prepare to ensure the rebuilding process is inclusive of our workforce. Let’s take this time to rebuild our solidarity through our local unions. Create a vision, develop a plan, commit to participate, and resolve that our collective future will be better than before. Every one of us has a part to play. Organize.

Living in Washington state, I have been privileged to have a governor who has taken this pandemic very seriously. Living in Eastern Washington (pretty well shut down), bordering Idaho, which took a vastly different approach (mostly wide open), has given me a pretty clear picture of the tensions between urban and rural lifestyles.

I’ve been serving on a committee with representatives of businesses, including hotels and restaurants, since last May, hearing the stories of people desperately trying to save their businesses and provide for their employees. I also have daily conversations with workers, from musicians and stagehands who want desperately to go back to work to essential workers who are grateful to have an income but desperately want to stay home. We have a lot of bridges to rebuild, and I’m not talking about bricks and mortar. We know that music has the power to bring people together and our work will be essential when we can get back together safely again. Perspectives.

Please take care in your daily lives. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Each one of you as music makers are precious and necessary to the future well-being of our communities. Hugs!

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