In The Quiet Places

A lockdown project for reflection

As social beings, Covid-19 forced us to do things that we are innately configured not to do. It forced us away from our colleagues, friends and our family, out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and into new quiet places. SMN created In the Quiet Places as a space for reflection and to capture the moments and thoughts that people shared, despite being kept apart.

Whilst coronavirus made its journey around the world, we have seen restaurants, theatres, shops, airports, hairdressers and even household doors shut as the world effectively went into lockdown a long few months ago. We saw the UK wash their hands, stay home, protect the NHS and stay alert. As a team, we wanted to find a way to reflect, explore and connect through tiny similarities and differences in the new found quiet places. We created a platform for people to submit anonymous reflections on their lives as places around the world were locked down. We admit it’s been a strange time for us all but the In the Quiet Places project has taught us a lot about public opinion, collective hopes, ambitions and that some things are better left behind. 

Producing a well designed yet completely anonymous space for reflection was an exciting challenge for our team of strategic and creative thinkers. We wanted to challenge our own perceptions of what was happening behind the scenes and had no idea how the project would have turned out.   With the life changing impact of Covid-19 ripping through the worlds we once loved, our anonymous space had the potential to become a dumping ground for the completely justified fears and concerns that stewed among the Covid tragedy. 

At a time where, understandably, there was a lot of collective despair, we loved that In the Quiet Places became a safe place for people to offload their thoughts with minimal moderation. Our desire to keep In the Quiet Places safe and unbiased impacted the core design of the platform. Whilst the individual responses are insightful, there was something exciting about the creative and collective piece, highlighting small noticings that we can often all relate to in some way. The art of rediscovering things in a new world with less commuting, traffic and pollution has been truly inspirational. 

Over the course of lockdown, we had a huge contribution of reflections on personal growth, making up the largest theme and a quarter of all of reflections. Take a look at some of our favourites... 

Given that the project collected real-time day to day insights from reflectors, it has been a barometer for new found habits, given up habits and consumer shopping habits. We weren’t surprised when around a tenth of reflections were about the new activities and experiments that had been taken up (probably with all of the collective free time we have found ourselves having).

Many organisations would try to moderate a space such as this to maintain a level socially acceptability. Ironically, some of the greatest pleasures we found with In the Quiet Places were in the completely random reflections which demonstrated just how bonkers we all felt at times. 

The term “social distancing” seems like a bit of an oxymoron, being social yet distant. In the Quiet Places is a great example that despite the space between us, communities around the world have managed to gather around small similarities in our new daily lives and come together in creative ways. For some, this was a stark awakening to reflect on relationships, work and life as a whole and it is no surprise that with the pandemic pause, many of us found the time to learn new things, reflect and re-appreciate old things. We’d like to share a massive thank you to all the people who have contributed and hope that you’ve found something comforting in our lockdown project, we know we have.

One of our greatest lessons during lockdown has been that creative energy is only ever transferred and we saw hundreds of ways that people channeled their energy into new and inclusive projects such as In the Quiet Places.

Billboard published a list of live events that artists will be streaming over the internet to help “share some musical joy” during trying times and Bandcamp’s "Bandcamp Friday’s" have been a huge success for the music/listener communities, read David's latest piece on Bandcamp's model here

Local Rainbows transformed a blank London wall into a beacon of hope, shining different pieces of artwork each night. We even had something projected for our colleagues' birthdays up here during the lockdown period. We've found that creativity is a great tool for overcoming adversity and in this case, many creatives have worked tirelessly to help bring art into our homes and onto our streets.

Another great example is Pencil & Help’s Creative Care Packages, beautifully designed resources to print out and get creative at home (best enjoyed with a glass of pinot and some 80's disco on in the background)

Finally, The Dots' Coronavirus Support Feed is a great tool for creative thinkers and change makers to tap into to find like-minded individuals, and other projects aimed at building back better following the pandemic pause.

Ren Balogun is a consultant at Something More Near. Content strategy specialist. Major projects for ClientEarth, AlphaSights and Circle Collective.