assets - of all kinds

Bill Maurer
Wednesday Apr 15 17:52:21 PDT 2020
    Dear all,

    We hosted three successful events in the past 24 hours, with a total
    of well over 600 attendees: last night's panel on the economic impact
    of Covid-19, sponsored by the Center for Population, Inequality and
    Policy; this afternoon's "Zot Zeries" lecture featuring Prof. Mei Zhan,
    on Chinese social media and the pandemic; and just now a conversation
    on racial violence, racial disparities and restorative engagement
    during the pandemic, with faculty from medicine, law, humanities, and
    several nonprofit leaders from OC and the Seattle area (video soon at I won't go into the
    substance much--you can watch the recorded versions of them all for
    yourselves--but I was struck by a couple of things that gave me hope.
    During Mei's talk I was really impressed with the quality of the questions
    submitted by our undergrads. They were on the ball, up on the news--in
    the US and China--and wanted to engage. It's challenging in a webinar
    format, but they persevered. The other thing that brought a smile was
    seeing people start to file out around 2:50 (you can watch the number
    of attendees change, at the bottom of the screen). There was something
    extremely comforting to me about this: almost 3pm, time to go, time
    to get to class or a next meeting or an appointment, time to take over
    child care, time for... whatever's next. And they all started doing it,
    together. It gives you a sense that life is going on, with some of the
    same old clockwork, as in more normal times.
    During the panel on race, it was great to hear people from medicine
    and law talk about how important our work in the social and behavioral
    sciences will be as we address the persistent inequalities the pandemic
    has again revealed. Someone also reminded the audience that rather than
    approach communities experiencing persistent poverty as suffering from
    deficits of various kinds, those who want to help empower them need to
    recognize, appreciate, and leverage their assets.
    And this last point, it seems to me, provides a way to start thinking
    through economic dimensions of this crisis. Our society is quite clearly
    entering into a period when we will all be thinking about deficits of
    one kind or another. Last night's panelists made clear: Significant
    challenges lie ahead. But why not start reflecting on our individual
    and collective assets, the skills that were not always obvious to other
    people in what was our normal workaday world--our social networks or
    linguistic abilities, our facility with technology, quilting, growing
    things, making music, baking bread, sustaining other people in whatever
    way our talents afford. All of these assets are being surfaced in a
    special way now. Again, there's something comforting in that--like the
    regular clockwork of the kids leaving the "room" at 2:50pm.
    Special thanks to everyone who made these three events a success!