Over the past six months, we’ve seen our cities, and our world, change immensely. Shutters down. Offices closed. Quiet roads. Empty streets. Across the globe, many places and spaces looked like scenes from a dystopian movie.
Of course, we cannot ignore the benefits that came of lockdown. More time with our families. Getting out into nature. Extra hours gained from losing our daily commute. But we also lost so much. Time with our friends. Exploring new places. Experiencing culture and feeling at home in old haunts.
For so many of us, our cities are a vital part of our lives. Whether we live and work in or close to cities, or we simply visit them from time to time, cities offer everyone something different.
Before lockdown, we asked over 1,700 people what they felt made a city thrive, and over 25% of respondents cited the social scene it offers as a major factor. One person surveyed describes it as “the buzz of just being in the heart of the city and the thrill you get when you walk around. Lots of activity and things to do, always somewhere to go and something new to see.” And even now, with cities seeing less footfall than usual, we’d bet many would still answer the same.
Human beings are social creatures. Even the most introverted amongst us can attest to that. We need other people to help us to learn, adapt and thrive. Being socially connected, especially at such a time when isolation comes too easily, is crucially important.
Cities provide spaces for so many different passions, interests and communities. It might be delving into art; sampling new and delectable foods; catching your favourite band; hearing new stories through theatre; or meeting new people in a bar. Through the offerings of our cities, we are able to join and benefit from diverse, distinctive and welcoming social scenes.
Social scenes and people are intrinsically linked. You simply cannot have a social scene without people. What would be the point? Interesting places to come together and connect bring vibrancy to cities. And it’s the social scene created by these places that encourages people to back.
And the great thing is, every city has something different to offer through its social scene. No two cities are the same. Each one unique in its identity, attractions and vibe.
The pandemic has, of course, impacted our ability to be a part of social scenes. Large and small. But it’s important to stay a part where we can. Lockdown and lack of interaction with others has impacted the mental health of many people across the globe. By going back to places with others, safely, we can take steps to improve our wellbeing.
And it will be just as important as we make our way out of the pandemic and into a post-covid world. Many, rightly or wrongly, compare this pandemic - to an extent - to what people experienced during the world wars. And while this is a drastic, dangerous comparison, we should also remember what happened after.
These were times of joy and happiness. There was economic prosperity, social vigour, and culture was at the heart of towns and cities which developed and grew. If we join together in partnership to revive our cities and our economies, we all have a lot to gain.
As we look forward to a more social future, and the opportunity to come together once more, it's important to maintain connection until then. How have you been maintaining your social connections this year?