Adapting to the ‘new normal’

There is still uncertainty over whether life will return to normal or things have changed forever through this pandemic crisis. During the second month of lockdown, with many businesses closed and restrictions on movement and social gathering, it was clear that both the community and island must adapt. For the agencies under my oversight, I encouraged them to envision ways to continue their important work, even when the normal is no longer allowable.

When the current Covid-19 islandwide lockdown was just a few weeks old I wrote a letter to the agencies that I oversee as a senator in the Guam Legislature. My committee has oversight over agencies such as the Guam Public Library, PBS Guam, The Guam Museum, Guam CAHA, and Parks and Recreation.

One thing that has been confirmed to me during this time is that, in many ways, art, culture, and heritage are the very things that sustain us when we find our usual routines and lifestyles disrupted in order to isolate and follow social distancing protocols. Our health care front liners and our public safety officials are keeping us safe, but as we shelter in our homes, it has been the work of artists, musicians, novel writers and directors of film, and other local creators who are part of enriching our lives, uplifting our spirits, and sustaining our souls.

In my letter I encouraged the agencies in my oversight, to the degree possible, to find innovative ways to continue to carry out their services and to share the community resources, the treasures, these agencies safeguard and protect. On one hand, commendably, agency heads and staff may be part of the direct Covid-19 efforts, rolling up their sleeves and providing services where needed. While recognizing that, I encouraged each of them to also work to develop some programs, no matter how small, which would take advantage of the technology that we have, to continue to provide services through arts, culture, and education to the community.