Distancing While Convening … in This Time of COVID-19
We’re all still absorbing the many ways that life has changed since COVID-19 broke into our vocabulary as a double-whammy threat to personal health and the economy.
Here’s just one way: The fast-changing seating configurations on our live editions of INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I. Week by week, the program morphed – from an in-person gathering place to a mostly virtual meeting.
For decades, the program’s centerpiece was a single table around which the host and guests took seats.
The evolution of the INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I seating arrangement: The original one-table set-up, from February.
Left: The “V” configuration, from March 19. Right: The individual tables, with one guest via computer screen, from April 16.
Then, with new guidelines about social distancing, PBS Hawai‘i TV studio crewmembers carried away the familiar table and placed it in storage. Out came two long tables, with a guest seated at each end, and the moderator in between at a smaller table.
Also gone were the small microphones, called lavaliers, that our production crew would clip to participants’ lapels or collars. Instead, to avoid physical contact, the crew rounded up desktop microphone stands, which had mostly fallen into disuse.
The following week, more tables appeared, all small – and every participant, host and guests, had his or her own table.
Meantime, our production team worked hard to keep a safe environment by disinfecting surfaces.
By then, COVID-19 had become the program’s ongoing subject, with discussions reviewing and reflecting on how Hawai‘i is dealing with this devastating situation, how we can do better, and what’s next.
Our regular volunteers at the phone bank followed government guidelines and sheltered at home. Staffers at this “essential” media operation replaced the volunteers.
However, when forum guests were given the option of participating in person or virtually, most still wanted to be physically present. Pictured above: the guests on April 16, with only State Schools Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto appearing by way of a computer screen.
The following week (after the printing deadline for this publication), all guests= were scheduled to appear by way of the Internet: the Mayors of four Hawai‘i counties.
So, over these fast-moving weeks of community changes tied to COVID-19, our INSIGHTS program went mostly virtual.
And no matter where guests are seated, INSIGHTS is still bringing together participants and perspectives. The program continues to live up to its goal, which is:
Convening diverse voices in a trusted space for greater community knowledge and understanding.
Aloha nui and be well,