2020 has without a doubt been a wild ride,- and here goes RAD, breaking our virtual event virginity on a chilly, grey weekend of November. You heard it here first; in 2020/2021, RAD goes completely virtual! For the first time ever, we had our team bonding social event, held a photoshoot competition, and launched our print & digital versions of Issue 13, all from the comfort of our own homes (and sweatpants) and a handful of Google Hangouts! And yes, this isn’t our choice... 2020 decided to bestow on us a global pandemic, and Ryerson made the decision to have a fully online academic year. Unfortunately, these were the cards that we were dealt, and here are the lessons we’ve learned so far:
A change of scenery doesn’t mean a change of values:
Past issue launches have been paramount to RAD’s identity and profile on campus and in Toronto. A RAD issue launch is a great party, full of fun, energy, and many guests such as students, creatives and local artists. With many new members on our team this year (myself included, joining the team this year as Editor-in-Chief), it’s really a shame that we won’t get to have that. But beyond the party, the issue launches serve as a meaningful celebration. Here is this wicked magazine that our team has put together, highlighting the insane talent found at Ryerson and rewarding the blood, sweat and tears that has come out of the RAD team members to make a spectacular print issue possible. This is what it’s all about, and just because we’re now limited to only being behind our computer screens, doesn’t mean that we have to lose the sense of pride and accomplishment over a job well done. As a team, we evaluated exactly what goes into making our events special and asked ourselves, how can we capture this in a bottle and translate it into a virtual space?
Cliché as it is, communication is KEY:
Beyond RAD’s role as a student publication, there is a wonderful *something* that exists, which is the camaraderie we have as a team. Having fun is equally as important as getting the job done. A big challenge this year has obviously been navigating team engagement while never actually meeting in person. Introductions over a virtual setting can surely be awkward. On campus, running into each other, having consistent team meetings, and grabbing a coffee at Balzac’s makes communication somewhat seamless. But the more we strive to communicate, be it by text or video-chat, the more comfortable it becomes. Our regular meetings are not necessary only for the purpose of team updates and progress reports; they’re vital for social connection, too. RAD Publisher, Amelia Ball brought the idea of P.E.P. to our team meetings; a pre-meeting activity in which each team member can share something personal, emotional, or professional that’s going on with them. It’s crucial for us to talk, laugh, and share stories- we need it now more than ever. While it might not be the real thing, a group video-call at the end of the day, where we can laugh and reconnect is a small bit of social interaction that can go a long way in the context of days of working at home in isolation.
At the end of the day, what has been the most important lesson is keeping perspective. This is a year that looks like no other; so in many ways, it’s a year where we can rewrite some of the rules. A clean slate, full of opportunities and out-of-the-box thinking. We will take things day by day and learn as we go along. I’m sure that there are many more lessons ahead of us. We need to leave room for understanding that a pandemic is now in the mix and the traditional, pre-pandemic ways of business as usual just won’t cut it.
This is why, in 2020/2021, RAD is changing the game.