— Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)
Elizabeth Timme, Co-ED of LA-Más
Every progressive intellectual seems to be readying us for a future that won’t look the same, won’t be the same - a future reality where we get to rebuild the city in our image and in line with our values. Excuse our French but this utopia is bullshit. The pressures of capitalism will creep in, coupling with the trauma of surviving this new normal to ensure a return to status quo.
We are experiencing primary and secondary trauma, which most of us don’t have words for; the effects of bearing witness to the slow churning horror that is surviving this time. Yet we continue on, dimly aware that deeper shifts must be taking place, for society and within ourselves.
Life outdoors is a calculated risk; venturing outside our personal quarantine is a gamble. Yet our bodies crave proximity, tactility, and the ineffable experience of physically connecting with other people. There’s no shortage of virtual platforms to connect to, but these are antithetically opposed to a grounding of the physical self. And so, much like the motion sickness our bodies experience as the cognitive dissonance between the perception of being stationary and the awareness of being in motion - we are all experiencing a Social Sickness from interfacing and relying on the simulacrum for stimulation.
The future of public space will be decided by our interest in identifying and treating Social Sickness, or our dislocation from the cognitive and lived, physical experience. These spaces must be fundamentally democratic and gatekeeper-free in their use and access. Collective self-care, in this context, is our road map back to fight for a truly new normal. We promote self-care to fight the patriarchy, not to help you decide if you want to stay with your boyfriend. Without this intentional act to rejoin, the dismantling of white supremacy will be cancelled. Utopia has been called off for survival; we must now learn to do more than subsist to help shape a world that is truly democratic and free.