The power of virtual exchange
Virtual exchange can be defined as a technology-enabled practice, which consists of sustained, human-to-human interactions. It is a practice whereby constructive communication takes place between individuals who are geographically, socio-economically, and/or culturally separated.
As we have seen throughout the course of this pandemic, virtual exchanges — in the form of Zoom calls, WhatsApp chats, live stream events, social media posts, and even blogs such as this — are happening all around us, all of the time.
If we can learn to embrace the core practice of exchange — the practice of widening our lenses, so…
The collapse of our “just in time” delivery system
Seven years ago, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota Michael Osterholm went on the record with GiveWell — a nonprofit charity assessment organization — stating that naturally occurring pandemics, such as influenza pandemics, were the most significant biosecurity threat facing the world.
As summarized by GiveWell, Director Osterholm stated:
It is difficult to estimate the likelihood that a pandemic will occur in a given time frame. However, the proper underlying conditions exist for a pandemic to occur in the near future…
A complex web of human development
Much like they defy our socio-economic divides, pathogens do not respect species boundaries. Researchers now believe that by reducing natural barriers between pathogen-carrying animals and ourselves, we humans are actually creating the conditions for the spread of not only inter-community, but also interspecies diseases.
In a recent article for Ensia, environmental editor John Vidal chronicled a trip he took to northern Gabon 16 years ago, in order to investigate why deadly diseases new to humans — namely the devastating Ebola outbreak of the late ‘90s — “were emerging from biodiversity ‘hotspots’ like tropical rainforests…
Everyone has a story
On March 15, 2020, daily life in Peru was brought to an abrupt halt when President Martín Vizcarra decreed a national state of emergency, effectively closing all borders and imposing mandatory stay-at-home orders for the country. Two weeks later, Josh and I found ourselves hopping on a bus hired by the United States government to Lima, shuffling into a hangar on the Peruvian air force base Grupo 8, and boarding a government chartered flight back to our nation’s capital.
In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, my partner and I chose to leave our plans…