Story one – 

The most obvious irony of the effect of COVID 19 is the fact that our enforced isolation – what Lord Hennessy calls the atomisation of society – has resulted in the most creative examples of togetherness.

For me, chief among these has to be the vocal leader, the inauguration of which saw 400 singers from across the world belt out Stand By Me – beamed into the comfort our living rooms from the comfort of the performers’ sofas. A joyful act of defiance, if the Sofa Choir is an attempt to recreate that which has been taken away, then it is also the birth of something wonderfully new. Encouraged to ‘sing as if no one’s listening’, unable to hear each other, but able to see the smiling-singing faces of their fellows, participants sang with the abandonment one usually reserves for those great modern stages of the utterly private: the shower, the car, and the bedroom.

I love this, and especially because it serves as the perfect model for campus organisations – the university, most obviously – already looking to bridge the gap between now and a post-COVID future. Initiated in the comfort of their own homes, students are on-boarded gently, effectively, imaginatively. Begin as if no one’s watching. Imagine that: the attraction, the involvement, the sheer sense of belonging.


Words by Adam Scott and Dave Waddell
Illustration Jessica Watson
Photo credits The Sofa Singers



About AfterCOVID

The historian Peter Hennessy recently observed that future historians will divide post-divide society into BC and AC – Before COVID and After COVID. It is in exactly this spirit that AfterCOVID seeks to celebrate how the world’s largest shared experience has given us the most extraordinary stories of what it means to live beautifully. Together, they are the clues to creating the future we all hope for.

About FreeState

FreeState is planning for a post-COVID future. Share your story with us – really, we’d love to talk. In the meantime, stay well.