"This made me think..." positive insights and learnings during the virus "Ausnahmezustand"

Hello dear community in different social distancing situations all across the world,

The goal of this thread is not to argue that “the crisis is not that bad after all”, or that “we will be stronger for going through it” or even that “society needs a crisis like that to grow in the long run”. All of these are dangerous notions in my opinion which glorify hardship in a potentially harmful way.

But learning something new in an unusual or new situation can be good, especially if done with awareness and shared with each other.

The goal of this thread is to share and emphasis what we are learning in this strange period of “Ausnahmenzustand” (German for “exceptional state of affairs”).

  • The first thing all of us learn right now is that it is possible for the status quo to change.

  • The second is that the world does not end if a deadline is missed.

There will be many more concrete experiences and learnings that are valuable for individual and collective development.

Please share some concrete examples of experiences, thoughts and learnings with a positive impact you are having during the “Ausnahmezustand”.

What experience made you think or learn something which might impact your behaviour in the future?

One area that will be especially interesting in this context is teaching by digital means. Therefore there is also a separate topical thread to just discuss experiences, examples and ideas related to school-related teaching and learning in times of social distancing and its potential for digitalisation in education here: Suddenly Teaching and learning remotely - What do you do?

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Example one of what I am learning about: How does work work?

I work in many different places, sometimes with colleagues, often in distributed teams or with clients in other countries, often by myself and according to my own plan. If necessary I can do a lot of my work from home but I also know that there are some things I need workshops, facilities or just colleagues for, which is one of the reasons I have my studio at Blivande. After a workshop I was supposed to facilitate this week was postponed it is relatively simple and straightforward for me to work from home.

My husband’s company sent him and everyone else into the home office for the next 2 weeks.

I have to admit, we partially enjoy being together the whole day :).

I have only worked in a classical “office” for just under a year and right now I find it fascinating to learn more about my husband’s usual work process and how they deal with the sudden shift. I am curious to find out what is “normally” happening in a “normal” office, which of course does not exist.

During my own “office experience” the company had a very strict “save the flow” policy. Meaning that nobody was supposed to just talk to each other but rather to converse via Trello cards even when sitting next to each other and book times for conversations only if absolutely necessary. I have to say that that was a work atmosphere which did not work for me personally. One of the reasons I am going to co-working spaces is to be able to sometimes just talk about what I am working on and I am open to listen and comment on others projects as well since it helps me think and I want to help them as well. Sure, flow is a great state, but I think it can not be forced and you should not be alone in it too long.

So how is my husband working?
The second day of homeoffice he said “I am bored!” I asked if he was more bored than he would be at work and he said “Yes! because I can not talk.” I offered that we could talk, and we certainly do, but he specified “I want to work and talk about work. A big part of my work is to talk. To come by each other and quickly discuss something or so and I think that is one of the reasons my team functions”. We are now actively thinking about how to improve this situation. If possible we try to be there as sounding boards for each other if we just quickly have to articulate something to think it through for ourselves properly. We will also invite one of his colleagues over to our place for a day for them to be able to work together and discuss intensively for one day and move on. Let’s see how this develops throughout the weeks.

What did it make me think?
The conversation is an important part of the thinking and working process for many people. How can we archive it in remote collaboration situations? I would propose to not shy away too much to discuss thoughts and developments with other people who are not strictly in your team but whom you trust and give back the favour by listening to them. I think this is not wasting time, but improving the quality and atmosphere of your work.

This thought will influence how I plan my work and how I will think about developing our distributed work projects further.

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Example 2: Eating together at home:

We usually cook almost every evening mostly vegetarian, or meat reduced dishes for me and my husband. Most of the time I decide what we eat when I go to pick up the ingredients for that evening on my way back from the studio. I am not a huge fan of recipes, so I get inspired on the spot. Halv of the time we cook enough for one or both of us to take the leftover with us to work the next morning. But not all leftovers are easily packed or reheated. Sometimes we forget our lunch box back home…sometimes 2 or 3 times in a row and after that the leftovers sometimes have to be thrown out. And at least once a week meetings or projects lead to one of us not comin home in time for dinner.

Now both of us are home. We can plan our meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner with the security that both of us are going to be around. Instead of between 1 and 2 hours of travel per day each we have now some more time to plan, prepare and especially store food. I find it a lot easier to reduce food waste and make long term and healthy food decisions and plans now that we are both at home.

Do others share this experience?
Can you maybe share some of your tips for storing and heating up leftovers or planning the meal plan for a few days?

Learning how to do these things and maintaining them is a lot more effort when everyone leaves the house for work during the week. But maybe now we can all learn some process that we can hold up at least a little better afterwards after having made the effort to learn while the situation made the barrier to do so lower.

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I make big pots of hearty soup that is more like a stew. I get whatever good deals on produce and cook it all up combined with beans or lentils that I pressure cook. Maybe it is from the years when I lived on this big rural commune and the food we ate was whatever was harvested or stored. That means you eat a lot of the same meal for days in a row. I don’t mind doing that at all. But I think a lot of people don’t like to do it that way. It means fewer trips to the store though.

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By “save the flow” do they mean record everything and save it? Is that the reason for using Trello cards?

“Save the flow” referred to not interfering with somebody’s workflow. Therefore it was very much discouraged to just talk to a person on their desk or ask a question in person. Instead all conversations were had via slack chat or Trello cards even when in the same room. If absolutely necessary we scheduled a verbal conversation and went out to the kitchen or meeting room. Maybe it’s good for some people. And of course to much interuptions are bad. But for me it was too restrictive. There has to be a balance for both.

Sounds like maybe they also could use one of those guys working the hammer for rhythm in the old Roman galley boats…“ramming speed!”

Today I found there’s a hashtag for that already: #ThanksCoronavirus. Half of the people use it ironically, of course.

I recall an interesting study about connecting rooms virtually with high-quality audio transmission into what they called “audiospace”. I’d have a hard time finding the exact link, but you get the idea. Basically, if that’s what somebody is missing at work, they can just keep an audio call open all day. It will need a bit of experimentation and selecting the right tool, of course. Zoom for example offers breakout calls as a native feature of their software.

I’m not proposing that this will be the most efficient way of distributed collaboration, but for those new to it, it would offer a soft start with an interaction environment that feels quite familiar.


For me the two things that work hand in hand are the asynchronous and synchronous AKA real time. You do the longer stuff asynchronously and the real time chats are either sketch pad stuff or something you want to be more private one-on-one for whatever reason. We got them combined in something like year 3 at The WELL. And this is still what we do today - even here. We’re here on Discourse and we’re over there on Riot. Having the real-time running alongside keeps you out of a vacuum…it’s an ongoing reminder that these people are there. It’s one thing Facebook gets right - they always show you who among your friends is logged in.


I disagree. I don’t feel like those statements have harmful effect (unless one is thinking them along the lines of “the human race is awful and we deserve this punishment”).
Those statements don’t glorify hardship but are rather a very productive and beneficial way of perceiving the situation.
On a level of systems, national and international, this is an incredibly valuable information and it will no doubt help the world prepare much better for the next one, which could be much worse than this. There are so many lessons learned in this process that the benefits of it cannot be overseen really.

To add, on an individual level, it is a better way to look at things than to waste energy (and possibly hurt other people) on panic, lamenting one’s situation etc.

You said it yourself:

Even though consequences will be grave, it is another opportunity to learn so much and become better us. Even though I often see situations of incredible selfishness, overall I like to think long term benefits will come out of it through raising of consciousness.

Positive thing for me is spending more time with my partner, I usually travel so much and am so busy that I don’t know how she didn’t leave me yet :smile:.
Second thing is, I am very curious and I constantly want to learn more than I can manage with my time. This gave me that opportunity :slight_smile:.

Also learning so many new ways to do things online, stay productive and make the best out of this.
Learning more about mass mentality, about people around me. Seeing who shares and helps others in the time of crisis and who turns only towards himself.
Very happy my girlfriend shares and looks to help others…I would greatly reconsider the choice of my life partner if I saw something else :wink:.

I wonder, how true is “homo homini lupus”? I believe it is not our true nature, nice moment to glimpse into that part of us.


It is hard to exactly put the finger on what I wanted to communicate there. I had the comments of some people in my mind that I heard last year about “People are too soft, our generation needs another war to wake up and get their act together” which is a very bad position. I also thought of some people who “strive on drama and catastrophe” and almost relish in it because it finally gives a reason to complain. I think I wanted to make clear that this is not about this but about the positive findings, thoughts and behaviour changes we can get from this break with status quo. Therefore I think I tried to convey that we should be aware and use how this change can give us interesting new perspective but wanted to avoid framing it as “getting stronger through hardship” and more getting wider perspective through change. :slight_smile:

I also actually enjoy the time spend with my spouse and am sure that we will get through this well together.

Another thing that I recognised during these first few days is the diapering of the “middle distance”.

There are the people we live with directly and then everyone else, no matter if, in another city, another country or another continent is as near. The feeling of nearness, frequency of interactions and such for everyone is now mainly based on emotional and topical involvement rather than coincidental geographical nearness.

how do you perceive that? Especially if you are involved in local help projects.

Okay I get it :slight_smile:. That phrase is a whole other level from the previous examples you gave :slight_smile:. Couldn’t disagree more about anyone needing war to grow, I think the effect of war is the exact opposite of personal growth.

Yep, I would say also that movement brings about evolution…movement of body, mind, spirit…
The thing with us humans seems to be though - we often require a kick in the butt to actually live like that :slight_smile:. That’s why I still believe great majority of people do evolve most through “hardships” . Using “hardships” is again a way to perceive the reality, I never use it. I use “challenges” as I don’t often see things as hardship or miserable or unfortunate endeavors :slight_smile: etc.

I enjoy time with my partner too, we have so much more of it now :slight_smile:, we also have some fights but the outcome is always positive. It is also a good test for many people, they will realise if they really want to spend time with their partners :stuck_out_tongue:.

Well right now the challenge is to keep engaged in local projects and move forward. This new uncertainty has created am obsession about the present state (so much fear and paranoia) and also priorities have changed for everyone.

I am now isolated, seeing almost nobody but my partner because of exactly that phenomenon…even those few I do see have built a wall around them. It is very silly because the measures taken by the government make no sense when you consider the people at the shop registers touch everything and everyone through the stuff bought. I have friends who came back to Belgium from Milan and Rome, no check ups whatsoever. I have 2 friends who came from Mexico, went through 3 airports and had contact or with literally few hundred people in 2 days…no check ups upon landing to Brussels.
Many examples like that, one wonders what are people thinking.

Most of us are social beings so, by necessity probably, we become closer now with people all over the world. I usually tend to spend time with people i align with in different ways anyways. Because the nature of interaction has changed as well, i guess we easily feel closer to someone purely for those reasons. We lost something, we compensate. I enjoy spending time with people I appreciate in different ways and I give a lot of hugs so…let’s say I feel the impact of this change.

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My wife is at such high risk because of pre existing lung problems, that she is in total isolation. I am up at our house on the California north coast and she is in a little place we rented for her job, which is a couple of hours drive from here. She also has an art studio there. Usually I divide my time between here ands there, but I can’t risk giving it to her by accident. Luckily her art studio is next door to her office so they ran an ethernet cable between the buildings so she can work in her studio. But for now we’re doing as lot of phone calls and Facetime.


Hello, dear community, for me I’m trying to find my balance during this period, I have started by seeing things around me from another perspective, nothing can change the actual situation globally, but what if each one of us thinks in a positive way and try to do something to his community ( close circle).
So as a founder of a coworking space, I started activating my whole network to create something valuable, for my case, it’s to launch some webinar with different topics so people can join us during online meetings to learn something new and ask questions, learn too.
I’m preparing for other topics, right now I’m organizing with different stakeholders to put everything done.

I will put in the attached link our first event of a program that we have been worked on since 2019.
Covid-19 Stimulating your creativity


That is amazing @ichraf! thank you very much for sharing! Extremely looking forward to the ideas you are developing in that webinar!

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Nice graphic too.

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While preparing an online design workshop for some students I came across the essay “Shelters, Screens and Tents” by Vilem Flusser.

Here the last third of it:

“ … .A screen wall - whether it is anchored into the ground as in the case of a circus tent, opened up at the end of a stick as in the case of an umbrella, floats in the air as in the case of a parachute or kite, flaps on a mast as in the case of a sailing ship or flag - is a wind wall. A solid wall, on the other hand in whatever form it takes and no matter how many windows and doors it possesses, it is a rock wall. Thus a house, like a case from which it derives is a dark secret (like that “secret place of the heart”, a home), and a tent, like a nest in a tree of which it is a descendent, is a place where people assemble and disperse a calming of the wind. In a house, things are possessed; it is property, and this property is defined by walls. In a tent, things are experienced; it assembles experiences, and this experience is subdivided and diversified by means of the tent wall, The fact that the tent wall is woven - i.e. a network - and that experiences are processed on this network is contained within the word screen. It is a piece of cloth that is open to experiences (open to the wind, open to the spirit) and that stores those experiences. Since ancient times, the screen wall has stores images in the form of carpets; since the invention of oil painting in the form of exhibited pictures, since the invention of film in the form of projected pictures, since the invention of television, it has acted as a screen for electromagnetically networked images, and since the invention of computer plotters, the tent wall, now in an immaterial form has made possible the subdivision and diversification of images thanks to the processing of its network. The screen wall blowing in the wind assembles experience, process it and sisseminares it, and it is to be thanked for the fact that the tent is a creative nest ”

Vilem Flusser “Shelters, screens and tents” in “The Shape of Things” *

(*quickly typed the text of from my book, there might be mistakes)

I found the likening of the screen, also the computer screen (a very early one while this was written) to a fabric/tent wall in opposition to a stone wall very interesting.

"The screen wall blowing in the wind assembles experience, process it and disseminates it, and it is to be thanked for the fact that the tent is a creative nest ”

When thinking of it like this, we are not isolated behind stonewalls in our homes, but on a camping trip together, sharing and processing experience which will change that very fabric/screen wall between us.

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