By Mark Toro, Midtown Alliance Board Chair and Chairman of the Board for North American Properties – Atlanta
I have not given birth, but those close to me have. My wife and my two daughters have each given birth twice and, as is the case with every expectant father/grandfather, I felt the fear and helplessness inherent in waiting for something that was completely out of my control. It was only hope that got me through. Hope that my wife/daughter would endure this hardship without complication. Hope that our new baby would have ten fingers and ten toes. Hope that it would be mercifully quick.
So, in a clumsy attempt to ease the pain and anxiety of hard labor, I uttered the only advice that I could muster: “this is gonna be over”. Intended in my rather terse and unfeeling words was the message that when this baby is born, and he/she will be, we can rejoice and forget the hardship.
Now, as we endure something that is completely out of our control, we are feeling helpless and scared. Again, we have hope. We have hope for a brighter day. We have hope for a world that will repair itself. And we have hope that we will be together once again, reconnecting with the friends and neighbors we love. The difference is that we, nor anyone else in the world, has any experience with this particular hardship. Whereas 360,000 babies are born every day, this global pandemic is unprecedented in human history.
Yes, we have hope for a brighter day, but without any visibility into what that day will look like. Will we return to life as we knew it, gathering in the “town square” to share life’s special moments? Or will we continue to cocoon in our homes, isolated and alone? I predict that our new normal is much like our old normal, albeit a bit more antiseptic. That we will shed the notion of social distancing in favor of communing again…living, loving and laughing…together.
During the last decade, we experienced a reemergence of social engagement as The Experience Economy met The Great Reset, Baby Boomers and Millennials seeking the same thing at the same time: human energy. Nowhere in metro Atlanta has this been more visible than in than in Midtown. Once a fledgling urban district dominated by gleaming office buildings, we have become a real community, pulsing with human energy 24/7. And, whereas we are now confined to our homes, emerging to our balconies each evening to applaud those who serve, we yearn to bring that energy back to the street.
This is gonna be over.
And when it is, Mother Midtown will give birth to the community she has carried. Like all births, this birth will bring pain and anxiety, but when it’s over, we will return to the coffee shops, the concerts and the comedy shows under the stars. We will come out from our homes and gather in the “town square”. We will rejoice and forget the hardship, sharing the laughter and love that makes us whole, that makes us human, that makes us a community.