We Are in This Together! Our Programs Are Moving to the “Cloud” (Virtual Events)

ACEC/MW Program Committee Chair Hanif Drzal talks about our association going virtual with our events in this "new normal."
As our new reality is setting in, each of us is trying to adjust to the “new normal.”  How do we go back to our social activities?  Everything was pulled from underneath us back in mid-March with little warning.  Our ACEC/MW Program Committee has spent some time figuring out short term versus long term solutions for our organization.  We discussed various platforms' pro and cons, as well as new programs to provide our members with needed resources.

May is Mental Health Awareness month.  With the stay-at-home orders in the DMV area, I think most of us are feeling a little stir crazy at times.  We might be feeling down or even depressed due to not being able to enjoy activities like sports, travelling, attending performing arts, dining out and socializing with friends in person. We need to remember that nothing stays the same forever and that this too will end sooner or later.  I encourage all of us to try and handle the current situation in a positive way, whether by enjoying nature (exercise/walking outside is still allowed), practicing meditation, yoga, or gratitude journaling – some of examples off the top of my head.

As our country and more specifically our region starts to re-open, we can now start thinking of returning to this new normal. Most of us have been teleworking (#WFH), assisting our children with distance learning, juggling work and childcare at home, and maintaining physical distance with our neighbors. An important question for us to consider is our comfort levels in terms of going out and restarting other activities we engaged in prior to the pandemic. 

What really is the big picture? I would think that the most important thing for all of us is to stay safe and healthy.  We want to protect our family, friends, colleagues and our community. Each of us needs to do our part.  My philosophy is to be cautious, conscious of other people's wellbeing and not to live in fear, having a healthy dose of compassion and empathy toward those around me, especially toward those who are at higher risk or are more anxious, etc.  Yet, as human beings, we are social in nature and we need to interact with other people.  

Within the context of our organization, we are moving toward hosting our programs in a virtual setting starting this week.  We are responding and adapting to our new normal in terms of our organization mission and vision. Our first event is the Virtual Federal Government Luncheon on May 21, and we have over one hundred attendees already registered.  Our second event will be a virtual social “Wine Down Wednesday” on May 27; we are providing a platform for our members to network and support each other.  We hope that you can join us!  For this first social, we are limiting the number of attendees to 25 people (we can always re-evaluate if registration is heavy), first come first served, and you can join in and leave anytime within the hour that is set up for the event.  Don't worry if the event fills up before you have a chance to register; we hope that the event is a success and we can make it a reoccurring event in the weeks to come.

All our subsequent programs in June and beyond will be announced on our website as we work out the logistics of event type, speakers, dates, etc. Stay tuned!

Lastly, I would like to welcome any idea that you may have to improve our new programs.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to me personally, ACEC/MW staff, or the Program Committee members with your feedback.  We are here for you and we are in this together!

Stay safe and stay healthy!

Hanif Drzal, P.E., CJP
ACEC/MW Program Committee Chair


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