During this time of COVID-19, we’ve seen the silver lining of quarantine in the form of emerging artwork throughout the Tri-Valley, decreased traffic and increased family time, and some of the most touching displays of human kindness. As the state embarks on a journey through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening stages, many are wondering where we’ll stand once the stay-at-home order is over and our lives can return to a semblance of what they were before. Those thoughts often dwell on what we’re losing, but many changes we’re making now might benefit us long after the dust has settled.

Local municipalities are working double time to address matters that directly impact their communities. While many of the actions are short-term and serve as a response to the immediate emergency, the ripple effect could last a lifetime. Livermore’s initiative to aid its homeless by sheltering them in local hotels further sets the tone for proactively finding relief services for the growing number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the city. We’re also seeing a push for supporting businesses in cities like Pleasanton and Dublin, as they’ve both reported the fiscal pain a loss of sales taxes can inflict on a general budget. The resounding sentiment at a leadership level is that this pandemic has underscored the importance of promoting local businesses and will lead the drive for strong shop-local campaigns in the future.

When it comes to the business owner, this time has served as a license for bold decisions that could have lasting benefits. Wineries in wine country have begun offering drive-thru services and Wente Vineyards recently announced the development of an app that will keep customers connected now and after the pandemic. Fitness centers are offering Facebook live classes that could serve as a model for future use and possibly added revenue. To follow social-distancing mandates during shelter-in-place, downtown businesses might see more outdoor dining and retail shopping, ushering in an all-new era that will change the atmosphere down Main and First Streets forever.

On an individual level, we’ve turned to raw expression and allowed ourselves to share bits of who we are, rejecting our previous obsession with perfection. It’s evident in videos of people learning to play an instrument or neighborhood artwork that previously we would have kept to ourselves. Let’s remember how forgiving we were of ourselves and one another so we can continue to see the beauty of unfiltered creation.

This time will be spelled out in the pages of future history books, with passages that will likely narrate the loss of lives and jobs and shuttered businesses. But we can choose right now to take what we’ve learned and come out the better for it.