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Editorial Board Message

A message from Nadja Pausch, Chair, Ground Editorial Board

By the time this issue is delivered, it will have been one year since Ontario entered the first lockdown in mid-March, 2020. It has been a difficult year, likely the furthest from ‘normal’ that many of us have ever lived through.

As the Ground Editorial Board was brainstorming the year’s themes in late summer, the concept of “normal” popped up almost immediately—swiftly followed by a conversation about what we really mean when we use that word. It started with the buzz-phrase of the year: “new normal.” We quickly dropped ‘new’ as we discussed how things have never been normal, and only those operating from a position of great privilege could feel as though they had been. Normal for whom?

‘The new normal’ also belies the hardship which accompanied the huge shifts and continued disruption we’ve faced over the last twelve months, and that we continue to face as we move into the second year of the pandemic. By its very definition, the phrase communicates a sense of normalcy where there is none. It asks us to passively accept and become accustomed to the challenges and changes the past year has brought us. More insidiously, it discourages us from an honest reckoning with the fundamental societal transformation necessary to move toward an environmentally and socially just future.

If anything, the events of 2020 have shown us how misguided and strange our B.C. (Before Covid) era perception of ‘normal’ really was. The addition of the question mark to this issue’s theme invites us to challenge our conceptions of what is, and is not normal, and asks us to recalibrate our understanding of the world around us, and how we move forward in our personal and professional lives. It is this question which provides the focus for the NORMAL? Roundtable, where professionals from diverse sectors—public, private, academic—discuss how they’re enacting change from within, and speculate on how we continue to prioritize a paradigm shift as the pandemic wanes.

Nadja Pausch, OALA
Chair, Editorial Board
[email protected]