Like many of you, I’m escaping the world through learning. I spotted an online art history class (or knowing Facebook, the class found me). Its title and image caught my attention. As the instructor opened the course, she touched on the first word in its title — Avant-Garde. “Dr. Google” reminds us that:  

avant-garde originates from the French language and it translates to “vanguard” or “fore-guard” – a small troop of highly skilled soldiers who went ahead of the rest of the army to explore the terrain and warn of possible danger.

Today it is used to denote experimental ideas in art or fashion, for example. Synonyms include:

Inventive | Innovative | Advanced | Trailblazing

Accustomed to considering the impacts of changing societal expectations, consumer behaviors, and technology adoption, I find myself taking a crash course in epidemiology and public health. 

Welcome trailblazers. We are beginning to envision the next normal: our lives in future phases of this pandemic. Our new reality is emerging in glimpses. Once again, language points the way.

  • Serology
  • Therapies
  • Vaccines
  • Surveillance systems

Here’s the reality check. Public health milestones, such as the availability of a vaccine, will serve as the go or no-go markers of our future. We will have less choice than we are accustomed to in daily life. This is going to be tough for U.S. society. I suspect that the Daytona Beach spring breakers are merely a glimpse of the pandemic rebels in our future. 

What we can do is begin to blaze the trail, spotting the danger together.

  • Will my staff need to wear medical grade PPE (personal protective gear)? For how long?
  • How might we retrofit our spaces for effective social distancing? 
  • How might we bring an equity lens to all facets of public policy at the local, state, and federal level? 
  • How might we collaborate to obtain new resources, such as temperature gauges, to ensure those entering our building don’t have a fever?

Are you considering questions of your own? Let me know and we’ll add them to the list and share in our next issue.

This is not going to be easy. Some of us need to chart the trail. 

I’ll be with you every step of the way.