As the world continues to struggle to find its footing through the global pandemic, it's brought into clear view our vulnerabilities as human beings, as communities, and as a global society. We’ve been left exposed to a whole lot of truths about our world and ourselves. Grappling with those truths—alone in lockdown, together in the virtual space, and through the often confusing phases of reopening—has forced an indisputable transparency and self-reckoning that's crafting moments of honesty and humility, reevaluation, and raw conversations. All of which we can harness to fight through this as an industry and come out smarter, stronger, and better equipped to run the business behind weddings and special events.
Truth: Learning To Work Through the Pause
It might seem like a long time ago, but business came to a standstill in March. We scrambled to adjust personally and protect ourselves. Then, we moved on to protect our businesses. Some did what they could to retain as much as possible through postponement and rescheduling. Others chose the opportunity to walk away. All of us felt helpless, unable to chart our course through the anxiety and uncertainty. In the grand scheme of things, however, the onset of the pandemic was really just the start to a long pause—not quite the kind we see more frequently like natural disasters, relocations, or family emergencies, but similar at its core. It opened our eyes wide to the dire need to better prepare ourselves and our clients for them. And in this moment of reckoning, we opened ourselves up to the bigger discussion of the customer experience overall. That our leads and our clients have expectations of how we interact with them, of the tools we use to build and maintain their trust and confidence, and of the accessibility to both the people and the details related to bringing their very significant “moment” to life, no matter the circumstances.
Truth: We Must Be & Do Better
Then along came George Floyd. And he wasn’t alone. He came with Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Stirling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Natasha McKenna, Michelle Cusseaux, and Breonna Taylor, to name only a few. He came not because he was called, but because he was there, and because he was Black. Like those he came with. He died at the hands of those who were supposed to "protect and serve" him, another trait he shared with those he came with. But it was when he died, filmed by bystanders who pleaded for his life, and in this moment of global vulnerability, transparency, and truth, that made his death so powerful. We could no longer turn our phones, laptops, and TV screens off because they were our only means of connection. We could no longer hide behind our social lives, our work, or other distractions because, well, let’s be honest: we were stripped of both. And at that moment, we were forced to contend with the very real likelihood we might not be who we say we are. Or, more exactly, we weren’t who we should and could be. We were missing something very critical to creating truth behind our words and our character: intention. When we realized this, we turned our humility into listening, learning, voice, and action. We recognized without hesitation that we could no longer pretend institutional racism and social injustice weren’t our problems, or that their solutions weren't our responsibility to achieve, even in an industry built on the premise of love. We humbly admitted that we have much work to do to truly represent, advocate for, and empower every member of our community. And then, most importantly, we intentionally and enthusiastically embraced it.
Truth: ‘I Do.’ Is a Right, Not a Forced Ritual
As much as the pandemic created a sense of chaos economically, socially, and even politically, it also created a massive opportunity for inflection. The forced pause took a lot from us but it also made space for us to take inventory of what we really had, what was important, and what was worth working for. We’ve recognized there are global issues that we’re obligated to lend our voice and power to. Just a few weeks ago, we were introduced to VOW to End Child Marriage, a nonprofit organization that gives couples, companies, and the public the power to end child marriage. Child marriage is, in fact, on the rise because of the effects of this pandemic. And, because we believe that marriage is a person's intimate and exclusive expression of their love for another, we've chosen to join the fight and help ensure that every girl has the right to say "I do!" when, and only when, she wants. We invite you to join us in recognizing International Day of the Girl this Sunday, October 11th, to celebrate girls around the world and continue their empowerment and advancement of their rights. Additionally, from October 1st through the rest of 2020, Aisle Planner is donating a percentage of the first month of every new subscription to support VOW’s grassroots efforts.
Truth: We Are Worth Fighting For
Through fits and starts, health agencies and governments around the world continue to work to reopen society. Nearly seven months in, however, the events industry is still furthest from resuscitation and a clear, consistent path to getting back to business near some semblance of “normal.” In the true community spirit of our industry, we’ve galvanized and took on our own fight for survival. Groups like the California Events Coalition and the Live Events Coalition have sprung to action, coordinating awareness, advocacy, and education campaigns for the industry. The LEC even created “silent events” on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to bring attention to the plight of an industry seemingly left to wait the pandemic out, alone and to their own devices.
For everyone, this has and will continue to be a moment of fear. Given the real risk of danger to our health and the damaging impacts felt in our communities and in our own lives, fear is a fair response. Some will sadly lash out in defense of a “normal” that may never exist again. At Aisle Planner, however, we believe this “reckoning” we’re all experiencing together is a precious opportunity. We're using this moment to rediscover what it means to be human, to listen and observe our world as it truly is, and to envision and empower the courageous community we serve to dream limitlessly and work tirelessly to build a bright, beautiful future together, with love for love.
Hero photo courtesy: Sarah Stefani