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ProCon in the Time of Corona

Authors: Progressive Connexions Team
Teresa Cutler-Broyles, Elif Çakmak, Rob Fisher, Lorraine Rumson, Susanne Schotanus

Even though most of the 2019 conferences were postponed, the Progressive Connexions Board of Directors has been communicating on an almost daily basis to further develop different aspects of the ProCon vision and reality. Usually, the daily emails are full of cheerfulness and energy. Even when we were all affected by global and personal tragedies, we put up a positive front to help support and motivate each other. 

 

However, at some point, we had an email exchange of an entirely different tone. The fronts fell away, resulting in a vulnerable discussion of our own emotional states and our visions for Progressive Connexions. We have decided to share some of our thoughts here with you, not only to share the ProCon vision, but also to tell you on a personal level: you’re not alone. 

 

Here there be monsters

I am wilting. That’s about the only world I have for it. Profoundly wilting. It’s actually awful. Some days I can be full of fire, enthusiasm, gee-up team, let’s set the world on fire. Other days – increasingly more and more – it really is a battle to do anything at all. No one knows what the fuck is going to happen. That is the cause of wilting – for everyone, I think, not just me. That intense undertone of sustained uncertainty. It’s demotivating, like nothing I’ve ever wrestled with before.

 

The phrase “we live in unprecedented times” is becoming a cliché, but most things that become clichés are true. Many of us are struggling with feelings and experiences that are completely new to us. The prolonged sense of impending potential doom affects even the most level-headed.

This is scary, unknown territory. On a map it would be the part where monsters be. And I think the only way through is just forward. Even on the days that are the hardest to get through.

 And we decided collectively that it’s ok to feel like this. And because we wanted you to know that if you do feel like this, you’re not alone. This  is a feeling we share. Sometimes it’s good to know that someone is ploughing on right next to you, taking the same steps, feeling the same sense of despair. And just knowing the feeling is shared, even if not verbally, then at least experientially, is often all it takes to make things seem better. You are not alone. 

 

The ProCon relief project

After this exchange about the feelings of wilting and despair, however, we found that not all was lost:

 

There hasn’t been one single day where I felt the work we’re doing is unimportant. Though with all the chaos and drama and insecurities in the world, things can certainly feel banal, I’ve never had that feeling about any ProCon project I’ve been involved with.

 

We started realizing that many of the projects we’re working on, be they for conferences, publications or media, our work has never been more important. As it is Progressive Connexion’s aim to bring people together, we felt the network was functioning as an antidote for the isolation and pointlessness that otherwise seemed to have permeated our worlds. We are constantly connected to those wonderful people – the Event Leaders, writers, editors and supportive staff – that keep ProCon going. And by offering people in the early stages of their careers a chance to lead events or spearhead books, we inspire the new generation of people dedicated to Interdisciplinary living. Then, of course, there’s the creative aspects: 

 

People are absolutely chomping at the bit for things to do. People are frantic for creative outlets right now. We can be there to create those creative outlets.

Many of us want to produce something, feel like we’re working towards something. Even when leaving the house is considered a risk, we want to keep connections alive and brains sparking. And through our events and publications, we provide these people with an opportunity to do just that. Even with all the crises stacked on top of one another, even amidst all the feelings of wilting, fear and despair, we still feel like with Progressive Connexions we are working to be a force of good in the world – and right now, that is vital for all of those out there, and for us inside here too. 

 

A taste of the medicine

If, like us, you feel like you want to share your experiences, share your work, communicate with likeminded people, or you need a project: come have a taste of our medicine. We want your help to turn Progressive Connexions into a lively, active community of thinkers and doers. So, engage with us on social media, send us your ideas for a blogpost, book or conference or simply drop us a line to tell us what Progressive Connexions means to you. 

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