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Reflections of Life in 2020

Updated: Mar 11, 2021


When we bid 2019 farewell and welcomed a brand new decade, it was with optimism, positivity and hope that we can start afresh with a clean slate in a new year full of possibilities. Little did we imagine that 2020 will transpire to be the most tumultuous, chaotic and catastrophic year of endless upheavals and hardships for many.

Barely a month into 2020, the whole world stood still and was thrown off kilter with the revelation of COVID-19. The global pandemic has turned the whole world upside down and brought humanity to its knees. It upended our sense of normalcy and forever altered our way of life. No other moment in human history has a single event so swiftly – and simultaneously – crippled global economies, threatened millions of human lives and caused unprecedented seismic cultural shifts with resounding consequences.

COVID-19 has accelerated an alarmingly fast progression of events directly impacted by the pandemic: global lockdowns, businesses forced to close leading to millions unemployed, stock market crash, economic downturn causing global economy into the worst recession since World War II, stay-at-home orders that brought on depression, domestic violence and erratic behaviors.

Amid the global pandemic, Mother Nature has also staged her own rebellion with devastating Australian bushfires and West Coast wildfires in America, resulting in thousands of people displaced and homes destroyed. Asian giant hornets from Japan, known as the ‘Murder Hornet, invaded the US for the first time, threatening local bee colonies; while swarms of desert locusts descended on East Africa and South Asia in biblical scope, the worst invasion in decades. Extreme melting glaciers that have intensified at the turn of the decade, add to global sea levels rising which in turn increases coastal erosion, warmer air and ocean temperatures that create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons around the world.

In these troubling times, people are getting restless and tensions are at an all-time high. Civil disobedience and reckless behaviors fuel the volatile political climate of racial injustice and police brutality with Black Lives Matter protests and other divisive social movements. Although most have originated in the United States, these civil movements have inspired global participation in their own communities worldwide.

Needless to say, 2020 is extremely exhausting!

Every day brings another challenging spectacle that creates more tension to already frayed nerves and fragile mental health. With three months left to the year, we are still reeling from the aftershocks from these events. A never-ending loop of anxiety over an uncertain future still persists.

In our endless effort to cope with these nerve-racking changes, we have come to grapple with a new reality that has disrupted millions of lifestyles and livelihoods. This momentous period has given rise to a vast array of recent behaviors that are quirky and imaginative at the same time.

Human resilience has persevered to overcome these obstacles with new creative ways to live, to survive.


Cultural currents are significant indicators of paradigm shifts. In 2020, we have identified five dynamic and evolving cultural drivers that are shaping the new world we live in.


In dealing with a never-ending loop of anxiety, we are turning to our past to find comfort and reassurance by rediscovering old methods of doing things that feel familiar and empowering. Fundamental and primal elements make a huge comeback, especially in the food scene. There is an enormous need to feel normal again – a desire to fuel the mind, body and spirit with something that is nourishing, calming, and purifying.

Signals | healthy comfort food, old world colors and graphics in packaging design, quarantine stress baking, smoking cocktails, meats and vegetables, open fire and hearth cooking


In an imperfect, off-kilter world, we feel the need to (re) build with our hands again, to feel the grit and do something purposeful and meaningful with our time. There is a child-like, handmade, grassroots, and bootstrapped quality in the ad-hoc ways which we find new outlets for expression. It does not have to be perfect, we just need to (re) engage with our communities in powerful ways that bring hope. We maintain our own sanity and well-being in helping others cope better, smile a little bit more.

Signals | community fridges, mini pantry movement, neighborhood pop-up food share, fan cutouts at games, neighborhood treasure hunts and lockdown window art, homemade face masks


As the world comes to a standstill, we feel trapped in place, physically and mentally stuck as we try to find a new way to cope with life. There is a growing shift from global to local – we turn our focus more on local communities, caring for our neighborhoods, creating micro-regions to encourage community building and communal participation.

Signals | micro-categories of hyper-regional cuisine using local ingredients, mobile farmers market, farm-to-fork social movements, micro-community farming


Our identity as people, as humans beings, are in crisis right now. In times of conflict, we feel at a loss of who we are and what we represent to others. Now more than ever, we have to view differences between individuals and groups as super strengths – to encourage a sense of belonging and to empower hope for real change. We may be different but together, we are stronger if we want to overcome obstacles bigger than ourselves.

Signals | inclusion workplace, multicultural cross-pollination, solidarity among minorities, inclusive Gen Z youth leadership


People are social beings. Being kept apart artificially is unnatural. A new flexibility in thinking has emerged from past rigid absolutes. We have to be creative to find meaningful ways to maintain our connection with others while being physically apart. This new world order sees harmony in oppositions, fluidity in tension. Our quest is to find that third space of existence for some normalcy and calm in an uncertain future.

Signals | new family connections, online video communication tools, distance learning and virtual classes, eating barriers, social distancing circles in parks


As sense-makers, our insights are holistic and intuitive. In our years of observation and participation, we inherently understand the changing landscape of cultural movements and consumer aspirations. We have our finger on the pulse of driving forces that change and influence the way we live, work and play.

Connect with us and let us know how we can help you anticipate the future by making sense of the present!

Banner Image Credit: United Nations on Unsplash

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