Life is feeling a lot slower these days. A stillness has descended upon many cities that have an eerie quality. We’ve all seen photos of deserted highways or empty subway cars. And we all feel it in our day-to-day lives. No longer rushing out the door to work, it’s instead become an exercise in how to safely and effectively get groceries. Walking down the street for fresh air has become a game of ping-pong, as we dodge from the sidewalk to the street to maintain a safe social distance from others.

Vancouver is weathering the storm pretty well, as swift action by our local healthy authority has led to a gradual rise of COVID-19, rather than the surge that has overwhelmed many other cities. Our collective effort to ‘flatten the curve’ seems to be working and so far more drastic measures like a lockdown haven’t been necessary. But life is far from the normal we had just 3 weeks ago. Businesses are shuttered. Streets are quiet, except for the daily 7pm rally to support our health care workers by banging pots or cheering from our windows. People are doing what they’ve been asked to do — stay home.

Our small LOJEL team here at the Vancouver Lab decided to close our office space at the end of March as we settle into what will probably be a work-from-home situation until at least June. It’s been tough though. Our Vancouver Lab only just got started in January of this year. Our excitement to create a multidisciplinary space where we can test ideas and host community events are all put on hold for the time being. Of course, like everything, this too shall pass. Until then, you can get to know us a bit better.

 


 

Kenzo Yoneno, Creative Director
Hometown: Yokohama, Japan
Currently: My house, Vancouver, Canada

 

How is COVID-19 affecting your professional life?

Many aspects of my work at LOJEL are future-oriented, so the advent of COVID-19 has for me, “brought the future forward” in many ways. With so many fundamental assumptions about life, business, and travel thrown into question over the course of weeks, there is an inevitable sense of disorientation balanced by a nascent sense that beyond the immediate chaos, the new challenges we face can help create a more positive future. It’s certainly disturbing to see the upheaval in the short-term, but trying to discern and contribute to positive outcomes going forward is what keeps me motivated.

photo by Kenzo Yoneno
photo by Kenzo Yoneno

 

How has this experience affected your personal life?

Talking to friends and family in different continents over the last few weeks has highlighted how we are all experiencing similar emotions and finding new levels of empathy for strangers in our own cities, and in other societies globally. In a world that has, at times, seemingly given up on idealism, empathy, and a sense of common purpose, that’s heartening to see.

Without the opportunity to travel and move about our city like normal, I’ve been re-discovering the wonder in the smallest moments of daily life. Simple things like, observing the Spring sun and the trees outside my window starting to blossom, as well as truly appreciating the amazing innocence and creativity of my kids at play.


 

Sarah Tesla, Editorial Director
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Currently: My house, Vancouver, Canada

 

How is COVID-19 affecting your professional life?

This experience has challenged me to completely rethink our editorial direction not just for the short-term, but to consider the future of travel beyond a COVID-19 world. Suddenly we are ensconced in this universal human experience that transcends culture, religion or nation state. So how does a global brand that embodies values like enrichment, discovery and journey, — witness and shift itself during such a massive transition? I will have to get back to you on that!

photo by Sarah Tesla
photo by Sarah Tesla

 

How has this experience affected your personal life?

I live with my 6-year-old rescue dog Moe. Although she’s been an incredible companion and gets me out into the fresh air everyday, I have to admit that going through this experience on my own has been up and down for my mental health. Video chats, virtual workouts and any other technology focused way to connect have been helpful. But nothing can replace the feeling of human connection, physical touch and togetherness.

While I avoid the 24hr news cycle, I do think a lot about the millions of people all over the planet who have experienced trauma from this pandemic, who have lost jobs, who have lost loved ones or who live in fear each day. We are all grieving the loss of our normal lives, but it’s not lost on me that many others are also dealing with addition, homelessess, physical abuse, displacement… It’s good to see people coming together to face these challenges and I hope the momentum builds beyond the acute response to COVID-19.

 


 

Nicola Anderson, Social Media Specialist
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Currently: My apartment, Vancouver, Canada

 

How is COVID-19 affecting your professional life?

My first day working as a Social Media Specialist with LOJEL occurred in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak in North America. To have these two major life events coincide was a shock to the system. I have been experiencing a dichotomy of feelings in a way; excitement about my new job contrasted with anxiety around the pandemic.

Working from home has been an adjustment. I share a small 400 square foot studio apartment with my partner so I’ve had to dedicate specific sections of this space as my “office.” The kitchen table is where I work most mornings and by lunchtime, I’ve usually moved to the table in my bedroom where the afternoon sunlight shines through the window.
Keeping my workspaces clean and organized has helped me tremendously, and I always have a glass of water and coffee nearby to keep the creative juices flowing. Lastly, maintaining a consistent daily work hours schedule has allowed me to find a sense of normalcy despite ongoing uncertainties in the world.

photo by Nicola Anderson
photo by Nicola Anderson

 

How has this experience affected your personal life?

As I mentioned, sharing a tiny space with another human while starting a new job and working from home in the midst of a global pandemic has provided some obstacles to overcome. In a way this experience has been positive for my relationship — we coexist in peace, and he understands to let me be while I am working at my job during the daytime.
Both my parents are in their mid-sixties and live across the country from me, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about them. I generally FaceTime with my parents and siblings a few times a week, to say hello and keep our spirits up.

This experience has taught me the value of gratitude: gratitude for my job; for my family and friends and the ability to stay connected; for my partner helping with groceries and making meals while I focus on my work; for the fact that I have access to food and shelter; for our abundance of nature in Vancouver.

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