The world may have come to a full stop during the COVID-19 crisis, but we believe the transformative power of travel stayed with us, even as we stayed in.
When I think about what I’ve missed most about traveling, I keep coming back to the chance encounters and conversations with new people. People that I never would have met otherwise; people whose worldviews are different than mine. To travel is to challenge my own beliefs and perspectives, which would be inherently nearsighted if I always stayed in one place.
During the three months that this issue came together, the Here Magazine team and contributors were not only cut off from travel—we could barely leave our homes at all, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread from China to Europe to the U.S. and beyond. But our team was fortunate: Though working from home meant managing time and space with partners, families, or our own volatile emotions, we knew there were many others in the country and all around the globe who had to cope with losing jobs, savings, health, and loved ones.
To travel is to challenge my own beliefs and perspectives.
Suddenly the world we were navigating physically became much smaller, made up of the walls of our homes, our various screens, and maybe the walk to the grocery store. By that same token, our concept of connectivity grew overwhelmingly large.
And when the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery finally made the national news, our collective understanding of community, empathy, vulnerability, and responsibility broke open. Protests erupted in Minneapolis, New York, and around the globe. Face masks—proven to slow the spread of COVID-19—emblazoned with the words “I can’t breathe” held a double entendre as both a message of protest against police brutality and a commentary on the respiratory virus’s compounded effect on people of color.
If it hadn’t previously been clear that the coronavirus would change the way we view ourselves and our roles, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement crystallized the fact. Without going anywhere, our perspectives changed more than ever before.
As this issue—which marks Here’s third anniversary—goes to print, coronavirus cases are growing in the U.S., Brazil, and India. The fight against racial injustice and over-policing has gained long-overdue traction. And it still feels like we are very much in the eye of the storm.
Where we go from here doesn’t have to be where we came from.
That’s why we decided early on to approach this issue as a sort of time capsule—a look back at how we’ve spent our time in quarantine, and a look into the future to explore how we can move forward. We asked photographers around the world to send us the view from their windows and images of their city emerging from winter. We tapped historical fiction writers to capture ways they traveled from within their apartments and science fiction writers to define a utopian future of travel. We took a hard look at the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and hospitality industry and explored what it would mean to travel more slowly and thoughtfully once we are able to again.
Where we go from here doesn’t have to be where we came from. And despite all the pain and tragedy 2020 has held so far, that is a gift.
Stay tuned for more from issue 13 in the coming weeks. We hope these stories bring the world a little closer to home—and inspire hope for a new, more thoughtful way of existing ahead. To learn how you can help affected communities around the world, visit GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.