We chose the theme of this issue—our first as editors of this magazine—because we were thinking about democracy. On our minds were the upcoming elections as well as all the work that goes into making and running our nation, states, and communities: counting residents, organizing campaigns, and demonstrating in the streets. As the magazine came together, we found ourselves thinking more broadly about how people come together and separate, as individuals and in groups.
Then, as we were finishing up the issue in March, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the state. As we traded face-to-face for screen-to-screen, we saw the necessity and dangers of union in new ways. Slowing the spread of the virus meant disbanding all the places we are used to coming together: sidewalks and buses emptied, churches canceled communion, and labor unions organized workers from afar.
In this issue, you’ll find stories of organizing and protest across generations and borders; the lasting effects of divorce and reunion among families and nations; labor and the value of work; the perceived differences that keep us apart and shared traditions that bring us together. These stories were all written before the virus dominated the news, but they all address questions of how we share, consume, and overcome physical space. We hope they will help you feel a little more connected in this time of great separation.
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