DLSPH Open: Why I’m Feeling Hopeful Today
With the worst of the pandemic behind us, the worst of winter starting to fade and the promise of better times ahead, I’d like to share why I’m feeling hopeful today.
I know that our community is largely exhausted and many are feeling burnout. But when I think of the past two years, I feel an incredible sense of pride. People have made extra efforts to get the work done whether that work was part of their job descriptions or not. Our people have collaborated across traditional disciplines in ways I’ve never seen before. There have been thousands of these moments that reflect our community’s public-spiritedness and ability to see the larger picture – the constant relentless contribution of so many that has made the strain and the tragedy bearable.
The work isn’t slowing down, but I think now is a good time for us as a community to look at how we can reinvigorate. For me, this means finding new ways to come together with the people who inspire and energize me. I’m thinking of adding activities that are simple and relaxing, but meaningful. Like scheduling a weekly coffee and a walk with a student, staff or faculty member. I’m also going to put aside time specifically to reflect on how the pandemic has changed public health and our health system and how we can do more to create impact from our work and support decision-makers in creating positive change.
Researchers who spent years working for more equitable approaches and faster implementation of new technologies and evidence have seen red tape swept away overnight and inertia disappear as the pressures of the pandemic led us to focus harder on results. We’ve seen that cultures can shift, and change can happen.
Our School has grown tremendously during the past two years – a testament to the work that got done despite enormous new burdens. We have new staff positions in areas such as Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, new faculty positions such as the Black, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+ health leads. We’ve also brought in record amounts of grants and gifts that will help our researchers and educators tackle the immense challenge of building back better.
The pandemic has been a catastrophe felt inequitably across the globe, and yet I’ve never seen so much creativity and so many good ideas, not just proposed, but actually implemented. I’ve never seen so much collaboration, which is essential to the future of our field. The pandemic has brought out the best in our community.
That’s why today I feel hope.
Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown