The world is in crisis. We’re all feeling it in some way. When we do get through this, the world will be a different place. How can we rethink what we’re doing, both personally and professionally? How do we prepare for what’s next? What are we doing to help others? We invited Mitch Ratcliffe – journalist, entrepreneur, and marketing and communications expert – to help us untangle these questions on the #GoodTechVidcast. Proceed to read a recap of the show, or watch it in its entirety here.

Getting through COVID-19

Mitch describes his experience, actually sick with the COVID-19 virus, as “a nasty flu. If you’re not seriously ill, it’s a nasty flu. Fever, bodyache, etc. After around 14 days, it passed. I had a day where I woke up and was actually feeling better. It felt like it was going to go on forever, but it ended.”

As people all over the world are battling the virus, Mitch thinks it’s our responsibility as citizens to be informed, involved and to express ourselves. He says, “The press sitting in the press room at the White House, or outside 10 Downing Street in London, or anywhere in the world, are our representatives. [They should be free to ask questions on our behalf. Unfortunately, many of their questions are not being answered.] And, unfortunately, much of the media has shifted from a journalistic perspective to an entertainment and ratings perspective. We are being bombarded with a lot more information we have to think critically about.” 

Mitch thinks the media is broken in a lot of ways. “It tries to treat all interaction equally. Entertainment interaction is less important than political, economic, moral or ethical discussions.  And we don’t have many of those, because entertainment grabs eyeballs.”

A need for sustainability and healthy change

What does sustainability have to do with what’s happening right now? Mitch’s answer: Everything. “This is an opportunity to stop and think,” he says. “Reflection is the only thing that separates us from the rest of the animals on this planet. We have the capacity to stop and think, and that is an extraordinarily important and rare opportunity. We’ve put demands on the planet that are roughly 40% greater than it can carry right now. We have to think about eliminating the externalities we previously ignored. Companies never counted the cost of the pollution they created, for example. We should be rethinking single-use plastic packaging. How many of us are ordering home food right now? The takeout packaging is incredibly wasteful. All of these things are small, but they can add up to massive changes when everybody does it.”

Talking about changes, what is going to happen to the world of businesses after this crisis is over? Mitch thinks change will happen in a couple of different ways – one being how we work. “We’re talking a lot about virtual work,” he says. “We are working differently. Why don’t we rethink work? There’s going to be a lot fewer people going into work.” He also mentions that a lot of people can’t work from home, and that they need to be paid for taking the risk to be outside. He says, “This is the first time in a long time that labor has had a leverage in this conversation, and that’s because we know that without them – nothing happens. So, I think business is going to change in terms of how things are organized and deployed. In addition to the change in work style, are the benefits and costs of what you buy in a way that makes people comfortable with their purchases and their impact on the planet. We were on the verge of a climate-oriented election in the States, for the first time. That may be disrupted now, but we’re still looking at serious weather and sealevel consequences from global warming, ten to fifteen years from now. That’s an awareness that consumers and businesses are all embracing.”

What now – What’s next?

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, Idka has created a group called “WHAT NOW – WHAT’S NEXT?”. It’s an open group on Idka, free for anyone to join. The group is meant to gather varying perspectives on this crisis, and to encourage dialogue. It’s an effort to stir up some good amidst the madness, and to bring some light into what, for many, is a darkened place. We’ve asked the members of the group to reflect on, and if they want to – express, where and who they want to be when all of this is over. The crisis we’re finding ourselves in gives the opportunity to reflect and rethink our place in this world – how we want to improve ourselves and the world around us. 

We ask Mitch who he wants to be when all of this is over. He says, “I wanna be authentically me. That requires that we rethink our relationship to other people, as well. We’re being forced to confront where it’s breaking down because of the interruption from COVID-19, and also because of the fragile nature of our infrastructure, physical and digital.” Mitch mentions how we’re seeing a slowing down of the internet because of the increased traffic, as well as a breakdown in food supply chains and medical systems. He continues, “I’ve been looking at how my family lives and how we depend on other people. I’ve also looked at how we’re spending money and have started to cut back. But, why don’t we do it deliberately? We should choose something that we want to change, like our environmental impact on the world. That’s what I do at Earth911. I write about how sustainability and recycling programs can be used effectively to lower our impact on the world. I haven’t been to the office I go to for five weeks now. There are many ways in which I can be less impactful on the world while giving back to more people around me, and that’s what I’m rethinking now.”

Want to see more of the GoodTech Vidcast? Tune in every other Thursday at 6pmCET/9amPST on our YouTube channel, right here.

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