I had a little "meetup" with friends last night. You know the kind: not actually in person, but on Zoom like a work meeting, except after work and with non-work friends. My (sweet and insightful) friend told me it looked like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I'm sure it did...
I could stare right back at my own image...
...in fact, with Zoom I could stare right back at my own image and see exactly what she was talking about in real time. It wasn't pretty, folks. For one thing, I need to work on my video-call lighting set-up. And maybe I also need to place an online order for some new makeup. But I digress.
It's probably true that I have been worrying about things more than I need to.
But you know what else is true? I have been waiting for SO MANY THINGS.
We have all been waiting...
...for our states or cities to reopen
...for test results
...to hear who won the proposal
...for furloughs to end
...for PPP loans or EIDL grants or stimulus checks
...for school to end
...for summer to start
...for our grocery deliveries
...for newly planted gardens to grow
...to be let in to that next web call
Whatever it is that you are waiting for, take a deep breath and let the weight slip off.
We're all in this together. You don't have to carry it all yourself!
While much of the world is suffering unprecedented stress due to the global pandemic, the EARTH seems to be feeling less stress than she has in a while. We have been reducing energy usage and air pollution, and it looks like the Earth is breathing easier because of it. That's a silver lining, for sure!
It's also fitting, since this coming Wednesday, April 22 is the 50th Earth Day.
Those who dwell among the beauties and the mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life ~ Rachel Carson
Several of our ELD team members celebrated our love for the planet by getting outside and planting gardens this weekend. Luckily, we were graced with gorgeous weather in the St. Louis area, so that felt like an Earth Day gift to us!
This is our eco-challenge to you: remember the connections, including your human ones. During this time of isolation, the connections are more important than ever. Start by connecting to the people you know and love - with a phone or video call - not just a text. After that, think about the electricity and the water you are using. How can you turn them off and use even a little less? This article has some good specific tips on how to save energy during the coronavirus pandemic. Next, go outside and take a deep breath. Take three deep breaths! Smell the fresh air. Now listen to the birds, the peepers, or the buzzing bees. What are the natural sounds you can hear today? It's springtime! How many colors can you see? The browns are being covered over with vibrant yellows and greens. In Missouri, the dogwoods and redbuds are blooming pink and white. Finally, go all-in...find a patch of ground, take off your shoes, and press your feet into this one-and-only planet of ours.
If the pandemic has you feeling tired and alone, take a break to connect with the beauty and mystery of our Earth.
Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson
Let us know how you are celebrating Earth Day this week!
This weekend was my husband's birthday - our family's first birthday celebration during the pandemic and stay-at-home order. We celebrated with sidewalk chalk messages and streamers and zoom and FaceTime. It turned out to be a pretty, lovely day.
Then today was Easter. For me, this Easter Sunday felt bleak and dark.
But today's church sermon had been pre-recorded at dawn. The online message began with just an orange horizon in the background and finished with full daylight. The scriptures were focused on beautiful analogies of light and darkness, which spoke to me as a lighting designer. (The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:5,9)
I have actually been thinking all week about how light can bring hope. Light can brighten dark spirits - besides just illuminating actual darkness. In this way, I suppose churches and lighting designers are doing some of the same work. So today, I'm dedicating this space to a few of the churches we have worked with in the past. We know you all miss having the ability to gather together. We are hoping with you for a quick return to your spaces filled with your people. Until then, stay home, stay safe, find your hope and be a light.
Last week I read an article about dads being "stuck at home" during the pandemic, which reminded me of one of my past research projects. It was favorite project of mine. (Are you allowed to have favorite research projects? Or is it like having a favorite child?)
These are the questions which spawned the research:
Are you a woman? Are you a lighting designer? Are you a mother? Have you ever noticed women leaving the design profession after becoming mothers? Are they actually leaving? If so, why? Are they quitting work altogether, or are they going to work somewhere else? If they are working somewhere else, what makes that other profession more desirable than lighting design? What can we do to make lighting design a good place for women who are also mothers?
Flexibility is one of the top requests from these employees, and now that we have all tried a work-from-home model, maybe that flexibility will be easier to achieve in the future.
In 2018, Emily Klingensmith and I created a first-of-its-kind survey of U.S.-based women in lighting design (and women who were formerly lighting designers) to find the answers to these questions and more. Thanks to great participation by women in the industry, along with great support by WILD and IALD, the survey received over 430 responses.
The survey attempted to answer difficult questions which don't have easy answers, but some of the survey results show trends which may give us clues to retaining mothers in the profession. Mental load - taking the lead on most household responsibilities and almost all parenting tasks leaves less time for mothers in lighting design to commit to work deadlines, overtime, trips, and after-hours aiming sessions. Flexibility is one of the top requests from these employees, and now that we have all tried a work-from-home model, maybe that flexibility will be easier to achieve in the future.
This is something all employers should care about. The answers to this anonymous survey were insightful, poignant, and sometimes raw. See the complete survey results here, and stay tuned for the next time Emily and Lisa present the results in person.
It has been incredible to see people step up and lead during this time. I mean, to be honest, just getting out of pajamas and taking a shower feels like an accomplishment for those of us who aren't leaving the house much...
Here are some of the things I have seen leaders doing this week:
Today I read a great blog post on the Convergence of Leadership and Community written by Orv Kimbrough, CEO of Midwest BankCentre. This phrase really jumped out at me:
During a crisis, you see the difference in management and leadership, they are both important, but are not the same. Leadership is about measured growth and management is about maintaining. Leadership is about challenging and inspiring others to deliver their best and management is generally about accepting things as they are.
Wow. Which one are you? We do always need both. But what does leadership look like?
For leaders, this is the time to shine, to encourage, to inspire!
What can we do to emerge from this better than we were last month or last year?
What can we do to grow and inspire growth in the people around us? And in the people we can influence, but who are currently NOT around (physically distanced from) us?
Use this time to show up and be your best. Just because no one is looking over your shoulder at your remote workplace doesn't mean they can't feel your commitment or enthusiasm. Be a leader! Put a smile on your face when you talk. Get on video chats so you can see your coworkers, and if nothing else, at least change out of those pajamas!
I've decided it's time to write, talk, and share.
How are YOU doing? How is your team? What is your state of mind?
This is hard, but we are all in it together. We need each other.
Together, we will write this history. We will get through this. It will end. When it does, what do we want history to say about how we handled this pandemic?
Here's what Envision Lighting Design looks like today:
We have been working exclusively from home for three full work-weeks. We started on March 16, about a week earlier than our city/county mandates, because we have always been set up for remote work, and we wanted to do the right thing. Something new: our team has enjoyed daily video check-ins. We will keep some version of this in place in the future, because it allows us a more personal contact with our remote teammate(s). We will also do a better job with video product chats for our remote team! It has been great to meet with our reps and manufacturers in this way.
We want to stay in touch with all of our partners, so contact us to book a virtual meeting, lunch-and-learn, or coffee. We miss you!
...we are also sometimes exhausted."
While some of our New York-based projects and others under construction have been put on hold, design work is continuing at a pretty full clip. We are still writing proposals, too. Do you have a project that needs lighting design? Let us know! We have a summer intern all lined-up and anxious to start. Help us ensure he will have plenty of (remote) work to do!
We are carefully monitoring any potential shipping or supply-chain disruptions. There are some manufacturers who can currently ship and some who can't. We are keeping track and letting our clients know, so clients can decide whether to change specs or wait.
Like you, we are also sometimes exhausted. The kids learning from home, the adventure of shopping for so many at-home meals, finding a quiet corner for a video call, finding toilet paper, figuring out the CARES program, donating PPE to friends and family in medical fields, checking in with parents and older family members and neighbors...all from a distance. Whatever it is that is making you tired, we feel your pain! How can we help you?
Watch our social media accounts for stories about people who are helping and ways you can help too!
Stay tuned, stay well, stay home.
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC