What a difference a year makes, folks. While 2019 gave rise to the expression “Hot Girl Summer,” July 2020 is shaping up to be defined by the vacation that wasn’t. (Or, as I feel we must call it, the Not Summer.) I am, of course, referring to the sad fact that we are all basically homebound due to the latest spikes in U.S. COVID-19 cases. If the kids aren’t going back to school in the fall, there’s just no way this summer counts. On top of that? Well, there’s the continuing onslaught of environmental injustices, police brutality, systemic racism, and violent actions against peaceful protests, for starters. (Oh yeah, and Taco Bell canceling its crowd favorite, vegetarian-friendly potato dishes? Way to kick us while we’re down!)
But just because coronavirus has axed our crowded backyard BBQ plans doesn’t mean we have to marinate in our own doom and gloom. We asked four of our Grist Fixers for their ideas about (safely!) getting outside, broadening cultural horizons, and practicing self care in the midst of all that is wrong with the world.
Here are their recommended routes for fixing one helluva f*cked up summer.
If you’re craving an outdoor adventure
“It helps to rethink the idea of what the outdoors are,” says 2016 Fixer José González, founder of the advocacy organization Latino Outdoors. “You can find adventure in local parks, through art, through play, through a spectrum of engagement rather than a pyramid that prioritizes and values some activities (at the peak) more than others. Simply being in nature with an intention of being in it, rather than completing a distance, summit, or the like, can help you with mindfulness.”
González also suggests journaling as a way to be more present and attentive while spending time in nature. “And if you are going to hit the trail,” he says, “then choose those with the least full parking lots, perhaps some with fire roads or wider trails to be able to socially distance. Have your mask so you can model to others the importance of it. And of course, always #RecreateResponsibly.”
If you’re itching to travel abroad, but can’t (but still want to)
From a pro-climate perspective, we’re not lamenting the COVID-driven dip in international flights. But we do recognize that wanderlust is real — and traveling abroad can be a life-changing opportunity that comes with a lot of personal and societal-level benefits. But don’t despair if you had to cancel your summer plans to visit another country; here are some tips from 2016 Fixer Julia Stewart, associate director of the international travel company Global Routes.
“There’s always buying [or renting] an RV and traveling around the U.S.,” Stewart suggests. Or, you could consider channelling your passion for travel into a different form of self-enrichment, such as training for a race or learning a new language. Another public health–approved hack? Spice up your stay-at-home routine with a global-inspired soundtrack. Stewart shared her all-international “Explore” Spotify playlist with us. So what are you waiting for? Press play, close your eyes, and drift off to Paris, Ghana, Ecuador, Italy … are you there yet?
If you love sightseeing in the city
Thinking about new ways to be a tourist in your own city? A bike tour can give you some fresh air and a fresh perspective on your surroundings. 2017 Fixer, consultant, and New Yorker Sean A. Watkins has found bike rides to be a great way to get out responsibly during the pandemic.
“I like to get on my bike and just let my sights take me,” Watkins says. “Since I’m in New York, I usually eventually make it to some body of water. And oftentimes, just following the bike lane brings me somewhere new — without the worry of getting hit by a car!”
For newbies, Watkins also recommends some must-have products: comfy biking shorts, a hydration pack (like a CamelBak or a Vibrelli), good bike lights, and a phone holder. Planning on making a stop? Don’t forget a bike lock and a face mask!
If you want to bring the ocean home with you
As temperatures climb, plenty of folks are dreaming of a seaside vacay. To bring the ocean into your landlocked quarantine, 2018 Fixer Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and the founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, recommends, “Solo, living room dance parties in a bathing suit — snorkel mask optional. You could even throw a towel down for good measure!”
Now, if you feel you must venture out to a beach near you, be sure to follow local guidelines, and use your best judgment to stay safe. Maintain the recommended distance from others, minimize time in restrooms and other communal areas, and try to keep your visit on the short side.