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Iwrite this as I set­tle into my third week of so­cial iso­la­tion. Since we started plan­ning this is­sue, the world has shi ed on its axis – re­flected in an en­tirely new lex­i­con of #stayhome, #so­ciald­is­tanc­ing and #lock­down­now. Like mil­lions of oth­ers around the world, the team and I are work­ing from home, try­ing to con­duct a dis­tinctly col­lab­o­ra­tive process via email, video­con­fer­enc­ing and good old-fash­ioned phone calls. There was the ques­tion of whether to bring out a mag­a­zine at all – whether it would come across as tone-deaf in a time filled with un­cer­tainty and in­se­cu­rity. But as peo­ple knuckle down and adapt to this new real­ity, we see that they are avidly seek­ing both informatio­n and in­spi­ra­tion.

So this is what we hope to provide – sto­ries that dis­tract, en­ter­tain, in­form and per­haps en­cour­age a shi in per­spec­tive. It is a time of great anx­i­ety, but there is also an un­der­ly­ing seed of hope­ful­ness: hope that the great Covid-19 cri­sis of 2020 (as we will not doubt call it when we re­count th­ese times to our grand­chil­dren) may en­cour­age so­ci­eties as a whole to re­con­sider their pri­or­i­ties. There is the hope that this cri­sis will act as a uni­fier, a re­minder that we are more alike than we ac­knowl­edge, and that we are all con­nected, re­gard­less of the bor­ders and ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences we so strin­gently up­hold. It is a re­minder that health is true wealth; and that the abil­ity to in­ter­act with our fel­low human be­ings, in real life, in real time, is a gi not to be squan­dered. This is a time to stop and re­flect, some­thing many of us for­get to do in world that is mov­ing un­fath­omably fast.

So maybe, when this is all over, we’ll all have an opportunit­y to do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. The peo­ple we speak to in this is­sue are ahead of the curve, in that re­spect. “It’s not my pur­pose in life to fit in,” Waris Ah­luwalia boldly tells us on page 12.

The ac­tor, ac­tivist and plant afi­cionado has long been con­cerned about our frac­tured re­la­tion­ship with the nat­u­ral world. “We see our­selves as sep­a­rate from na­ture, when in real­ity we are one and the same. Our re­la­tion­ship to na­ture is our re­la­tion­ship to our­selves. Do we treat our­selves with love?”

Rahul Mishra, mean­while, is turn­ing tra­di­tional fashion ecosys­tems on their head. We spoke to Mishra just be­fore he be­came the first In­dian fashion de­signer to show a col­lec­tion dur­ing Paris Haute Cou­ture Week in Jan­uary. But his mes­sage seems par­tic­u­larly res­o­nant to­day. Mass pro­duc­tion is pol­lut­ing the world, in Mishra’s view. “If you create at a human pace, it can be sus­tain­able, as the slower pace gives Mother Earth time to re­place its re­sources – a mech­a­nised pace be­comes un­sus­tain­able.”

Fi­nally, now is the perfect time to go back and read some clas­sics. Chi­nese au­thor Jung Chang’s

Wild Swans is a good place to start. On page 46, the au­thor talks about the per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal tri­als she has faced over the course of her ca­reer. If noth­ing else, Chang shows us, through her pen­man­ship and de­fi­ance, that even the most chal­leng­ing of cir­cum­stances can be over­come.

Selina Den­man

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