Column: Susanne Nejderås on historic events and the new normal
After a three-month-long total lockdown came summer, along with a slow opening of businesses and facilities, as a relief. In California, we survived on the feeling of freedom and the summer began with a smile as we got to start meeting other people, in limited numbers. The George Floyd tragedy and the Black Lives Matters demonstrations then took off and became a big part of everyday life. A tough time for the United States and especially California when Covid-19 cases rose again in mid-summer.
Summer schools had recently opened as part of social measures for children. Restaurants, gyms, and salons quickly received new directives in which they had to close or move their activities outdoors. It may seem simply done in the warm weather, but coloring your hair in a parking lot meant that environmental organizations and unions came up with new restrictions. The big tech companies, such as Facebook, Apple and Google, came early with extension of distance work until mid-2021 and one comes to realize that it will take time for the United States to move forward and out of the pandemic.
Two strong groups are salient: those who are quite afraid and others who believe that you need to start opening up the country more in order to move forward. There are strong forces in both groups that push the dialogue in social media and create debate. And as if this weren’t enough, California was hit by historic fires just in time for the start of school. The feeling of freedom to be able to leave home disappeared in the extensive smoke; it brings to mind the large industrial cities around the world that live with this every day.
The culture of Silicon Valley is characterized by being able to meet in spontaneous and simple contexts, in Palo Alto but also on the campuses of the major universities, Stanford and Berkeley. The high rents combined with the increase in distance work is causing people to move. There is a lot of speculation about the new normal and how this culture will change. Can a digital transformation replace all meetings? How will collaborations be created and development be driven in the future? What is the future culture in Silicon Valley? These are big questions being asked and I see it as a privilege to be in the midst of this historic moment that will certainly have major consequences for Silicon Valley, California, the United States and the rest of the world.
Susanne Nejderås, Director of Smart Textiles