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ASU sustainability professor looking for positives during virus outbreak

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PHOENIX — They’re calling it a silver lining below the pandemic’s cloud.

“We don’t want to minimize the negative impacts, but we trying to look for some of the positives,” Mick Dalrymple, director of the University Sustainability Practices at Arizona State University, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

Dalrymple believes in looking for the positive things no matter the circumstances.

Right now, one of those positives can be seen with the impact on Phoenix’s air quality. The city has a heavy commuter society and now with most people working from home, it’s evident less cars are on the road, reducing traffic and minimizing pollution.

“It’s gotten a lot of people connected at the neighborhood level which creates social cohesiveness,” Dalrymple said.

People are getting back to the way things used to be. They’re appreciating the little things like blue skies, neighbors helping neighbors and more kids playing outside.

“People are having neighborhood happy hours sitting in their driveways enjoying the sunset,” Dalrymple added. “I had a neighbor tell me they’ve lived in our neighborhood for 32 years and just met someone for the first time.”

People are quite literally taking a breath of fresh air during some of the darkest times our country has seen.

“I think it’s good for building community where it counts which is in the neighborhoods,” Dalrymple said.

He hopes the pandemic helps change people’s perspective permanently.

Dalrymple compared the changed perspective to traveling to foreign countries.

“It gives you a different perspective and allows you to evaluate what you were used to,” Dalrymple said.

He believes the current situation could show us what can change for the better in the future. Businesses are adapting and have become more innovative. Families are supporting local businesses, reusing things at home and cooking more meals together.

But will it all continue after the pandemic fades away? Dalrymple is hopeful.

“One thing I’ve really taken to heart over this past decade is the phrase, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste,” he said.

The negatives can become consuming, but Dalrymple remains encouraged this could bring more positives to our society.

“A crisis is the opportune time to make change for the good because in crisis is when change happens,” Dalrymple said. “In normal life change is difficult because there’s a lot of pressure to just keep doing the same thing that has always been done.”

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