A letter to all

In times like these, we hope you feel safe.

Hello friends,
What times are these. We hope you feel safe.

As we all get used to the oddness and uncertainty of our new reality, positive communication matters more than ever, so we wanted to take the opportunity to uplift the spirits and spread a little joy and light. Goodwill is contagious too!

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Here are a few things we have been thinking about at &Open.

  • We are all in this together. This horror is a leveller, but the hope is that progress emerges in some form: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff famously said back in 2008. Commercial optimisation, endless efficiency, prioritising the individual, brands besotted by zeros and ones. Many forgot we are humans not code, societies rather than economies, communities of people as vulnerable as we are strong. It’s surprising where comfort can be found in a global pandemic. Bill Gates is an endless source of wisdom, reassurance and humour.
  • This is a time for learning. Isolated yet united we have gained some much needed mental space to listen and observe. Whether you’ve signed up to learn Mandarin on Duolingo or are taking sourdough classes on Instagram, the upsurge in home-schooling ourselves, and not just our kids, is quite remarkable. This thirst for up-skilling suggests a collective search for personal improvement that is invigorating. Effort is everything, life is an endeavour. Against a backdrop of only dismal news in recent memory, we’re finding joy in rolling up our sleeves. It is empowering.

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery.

— Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

  • It’s a time for reflection, too. Our current circumstances are exceptional, but they are forcing us all to question matters of purpose and priority. Communities are being tested for their tightness. Local businesses are pivoting ingeniously to answer urgent needs. Living with less is helping us work out what really matters, and what might be unnecessary. It is heart-warming that “What can we do to help?” is the predominant question being asked.
  • Sales of books have rocketed. Classic novels are in bestseller lists again. Streaming services have film and television archives on tap. Perhaps (hopefully) this is the one time in our lives that we will be forcibly kept indoors en masse with a canon of culture at our fingertips to gorge on. Tuck in. But think and choose, rather than scroll and select. Sometimes the old ones really are the best.

Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box. They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe.

— The Beatles, Across The Universe

  • What will life be like on the other side? We sense that there was a wind of change beginning to blow before we hunkered down; a correcting of rotten old world orders. How we respond in a crisis says a great deal, not just about who we are, but about who we want to be. Vital qualities like care, kindness and loyalty are re-entering the public consciousness in force. A communal spirit, stories of genuine charity and support abound. This is bringing out the best in people.
  • We’re here and life will go on. Hope is not about denying reality, it is about defeating the odds, not giving in. There is something wonderfully hopeful in this rendition of Across The Universe recorded last week, because the world is changing but we are together and hope is just a beginning.
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We are optimists at heart, we enjoy the endeavour. We are in the business of happiness, and we love what we do.

Good luck and take care.

& Mark

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