Introducing Volume 33: Collective

Introducing Volume 33: Collective

Our Editor-in-Chief introduces our new issue, in which we’re exploring the concept of community around the world. From ancestral groups to contemporary clubs, local networks and relationships that span space and time, we celebrate global connections through the lens of travel.

a conspiracy theory currently floating around on TikTok
that denies the existence of American author and activist Helen
Keller, suggesting that a deaf and blind person couldn’t possibly
write books. I remember doing a project about her in primary school
in which I copied down her much-echoed sentiment “alone we can do
so little; together we can do so much” into my exercise book. I
assume this was a somewhat lofty way of telling us to play nicely
rather than collaborate on homework.

Today, it’s the kind of mawkish phrase you see scribed on a
gift-shop fridge magnet or plastered over a wanderlust-y image on
your Instagram feed. But the importance of togetherness has been
newly thrust into the limelight over the past 12 months. After a
year of being kept apart physically, we’ve been made acutely aware
of our intrinsic human need to socialise and feel part of something
bigger. From our now well-worn sofas, we were left wondering how we
could have ever bailed on anything (until Zoom quizzes came along,
at least).

For a generation of digital natives berated for navel gazing and
individualism, the pandemic has not only shown that community
spirit is very much alive but that it remains the steely twine on
which our happiness is hung. Be it your spin class, pottery
workshop or queer book club, our affiliation to various groups –
the pinning of flags to an infinite number of masts – is the way in
which we both define ourselves and order the world around us.

Yet sitting alone at my kitchen table amid another lockdown,
like so many, I found myself siloed once more. As restrictions and
Brexit politics made travel near impossible again, well-meaning
friends asked how I would fill the pages of this magazine. The
“collective” theme of the issue goaded me with every “ping” of an
email bearing news of flight cancellations, hotel closures and
folding hospitality businesses. I telepathically sent
half-encouraging, half-threatening messages to the powers that be
to get a move on with a vaccine.

It turns out that a pandemic does many, many ghastly things, but
it does not steal stories. It cannot. They arrived in my inbox in
droves. Empowered seaweed mamas in Zanzibar; custodians of Iraq’s
Baghdad-Basra night train; shamans on the shore of Guatemala’s Lake
Atitlán; letter writers in Verona sending comfort to the
love-struck. Ping! Ping! Ping! That taunting sound became one of
renewed hope. I envisioned a global electricity grid, fizzing and
crackling as its tributaries sparked, jumping from continent to
continent, snaking into dark corners, lighting them up. I had never
felt more connected to our community.

The result? A collection of tales of togetherness as divergent
as our fingerprints. In the following pages you’ll meet ancestral
groups, delve into underground collectives and hear from the
creative minds of tomorrow. As we near the end of the tunnel, see
this issue as a glimmer of what’s to come – both in terms of
travel, and being together. Not long now.