What we have endured in 2020, has been unique, to say the least. The way we interact, operate, and communicate has changed – businesses and industries are facing economic hardship, social standards that surround our country are changing every day, and our new norm is one of uncertainty and constant change.

Schools

Neal Patel, a middle school science teacher in Johnston, IA, sits in front of what should be a classroom full of students. Patel, having lost two family members of his own to COVID-19, hopes schools can do a better job of adapting to pandemic-driven learning plans. “We should be prioritizing human life. Society needs to ask less of schools. Why can’t workplaces make some more accommodations?” Patel acknowledges the challenges many schools face in the coming months, but he claims many schools are underfunded. “We’re asked to do more with less,” he says.

Community

In the Spring of 2020, Zakariyah Hill and  Aaliyah Quinn co-founded Supply Hive, a social movement responding to systemic racism and police brutality. They figured that one way to aid the nationwide social movement was to provide basic essentials to those who are marginalized. The Supply Hive community garden in Des Moines, IA, is maintained by local volunteers and feeds disadvantaged communities. Hill, who is also a current student at Iowa State University studying information systems and software engineering, hopes Supply Hive can extend its support to create real and long-lasting change in the Des Moines area.

Government

Once the epicenter for local government, the Des Moines, IA City Council chamber runs quiet. Their lights dimmed and seats empty, meeting rooms all around the world have turned into dust collectors. Change is rarely achieved in the mahogany filled room these days; instead, it is through the screen of a computer.

Recreation

Situated just outside of downtown Des Moines, IA, Gray’s Lake offers urban dwellers the unique experience of nautical activity while still being close to the city’s center. Gray’s Lake typically rents paddle boards and small boats in the summer; however, this is not your typical year. The lake has shut down all boat rentals and has restricted all aquatic activity, leaving its visitors high and dry.

Travel

“The whole COVID dilemma has really kind of ravaged the airline industry and we’re starting to see more of that,” says student pilot Kyle Calvert. At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, an  airport that once hosted more than two thousand flights a day, gates sit empty, and only certain areas of the airport receive traffic. At Milwaukee’s International Airport, and many other airports across the Midwest, it’s much of the same. “In the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of airlines were doing everything they could to avoid furloughing pilots and other employees,” Calvert says, “but the pandemic has continued and revenue has not seen much of an increase.”

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