A world turned upside down
Two months ago today I published the first article on ELEVATION. Entitled “A History Of Pandemics,” the very brief post shared an informative graphic comparing the relative severity of pandemics throughout history: from the Plague of Justinian in the 6th Century A.D. to the Bubonic Plague of the mid-14th Century; from the ongoing AIDS epidemic that began in 1981 to today’s coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. At the time, COVID-19 had only caused 4,700 deaths worldwide – a very minor toll compared to the 200 million lost during the four years of the Bubonic Plague. However, in the last 60 days, 5 million more human beings have been infected with the novel coronavirus and another 342,000 have died. Though still relatively modest in the grand scheme of history, the current pandemic has killed 26 times more people than Ebola, SARS, and MERS combined.
The early days of the coronavirus pandemic were particularly harrowing because so little was known about the infection. We didn’t know how deadly it was (and, to some degree, we still don’t.) Early estimates on the overall mortality of COVID-19 varied between 0.1% and 10.0%. We didn’t exactly know how the disease was spread or how to avoid catching it. Overwhelmed by outbreaks, China and then Italy took the surreal and extraordinary step of mandating lockdowns for tens of millions of people.
We here in the United States watched on for weeks, unable to cognitively process the notion that such a scourge could sweep across our lands, that such draconian social restrictions would be necessary here. Then New York City got hit. The first case was diagnosed there on March 1. By the third week of March, the “City That Never Sleeps” had effectively shutdown. Two months later, nearly 21,000 NYC residents have died of COVID-19. Unbelievably, that is roughly 1 out of every 400 people who live in the city. Tomorrow – Memorial Day in the United States – the nationwide death toll will cross 100,000 souls.
A website born of hope
However, despite the all-encompassing scope of the crisis, there have been and continue to be many reasons to hold on to hope. People all over the world are banding together and selflessly supporting each other. Though physically distanced, we are emotionally and spiritually congregating as never before. Stories of generosity, goodness, sacrifice, and heroism abound in virtually every community around the globe. And, yes, great people continue to achieve great things. Artists continue to paint and sculpt. Comedians continue to make us laugh. Musicians continue to provide nourishment for our souls. Educators continue to expand our horizons and nurture our children. Enterprising business leaders continue to develop products and services that enhance our lives and make the crisis more bearable. And scientists around the world are collaborating in unprecedented ways to bring the pandemic to an end. Every day, they take us one step closer to that glorious light at the end of the tunnel.
The seeds for ELEVATION were planted in 2016 when I began dabbling with a multimedia journalism platform for cultural and ideational exploration – effectively a modern, slightly edgier thematic offspring of National Geographic (which I love and admire so much). However, life and work got in the way, and I was not able to fully pull the trigger back then.
Fast-forward four years to the early days of the 2020 pandemic. The crisis seemed overwhelming. The social and economic upheaval were all but incomprehensible. The future appeared bleak and unknowable. Everywhere I turned for news I found much of the same thing: fearmongering, sensationalism, and stories that highlighted suffering and loss.
I felt that the people of the world (including me) needed a source of optimism and light – a website they could rely upon to provide uplifting, educational, and powerful stories. And that website would have to provide these stories every day. ELEVATION finally came to life. Its mission is, and always will be, to uplift our spirits and to inspire altruism.
Our journey continues
To date, ELEVATION has been entirely my own labor of love. I have written all of the stories, conducted all of the research, curated all of the ideas, and sourced all of the photos and videos. At first I posted 2 to 3 succinct articles per day. However, in the past 4 to 6 weeks I have transitioned to more in-depth daily reporting. I counted the articles I have published in the last 60 days, and, to my shock that number now stands at 126.
I had hoped to wrangle others into contributing content by now, but, frankly, I have been too busy writing articles, looking for stories, and promoting the site (a skill I am learning on the fly) to properly recruit team members. I aspire to lock in at least one or two regular contributors by the end of June. (If this appeals, to you, please contact me HERE.)
The response to ELEVATION has been tremendous and has fortified my commitment to expand the platform and to grow a worldwide community of curious, open-minded, compassionate readers. I am especially excited about the HIGH LIFE series that I launched in late April. Every week or two ELEVATION presents an engaging multimedia profile on an inspiring individual(s) who is achieving great things and working hard toward a better future. The series explores fascinating vocations, passions, and ways of life in diverse places around the globe. The first installment featured exclusive photo, video and interview content from Swedish freediving champion Nicole Edensbo. I have also profiled Las Vegas-based adventure photographer Al Baker, and Spanish flamenco performers Kati La Zíngara and David Manzano. These articles have generated great interest and feedback from the ELEVATION audience.
I am happy to report that ELEVATION continues to grow every day. The site now receives 1,000 visitors per week with almost no marketing or operating budget. For the month of June, my target is 10,000 visitors. With your help, we will smash that number. Please continue to accompany me on this journey and, if you are so inclined, share the content that particularly moves you with your sphere of influence.
Also, I ask that you kindly take the following actions:
- Join the ELEVATION weekly mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page.
- Follow ELEVATION on both Instagram and Facebook.
- Subscribe to the ELEVATION YouTube channel.
Moreover, if you want to contribute to ELEVATION in any way – creatively, technically, financially, etc. – please do not hesitate to contact me. I am open to all ideas. It takes a village, as they say.
Lastly, I want to point out that ELEVATION is, and always will be, a nonprofit website. The content is absolutely free, and I hope to keep it that way forever. If you value this website, please consider donating to one of the incredible organizations on the WAYS TO GIVE page. These admirable groups are making titanic contributions to the fight against COVID-19 and to economic and humanitarian relief efforts.
Let’s do this.
Much love, and, as always…
Stay positive. Dream Big.
– Daniel Patinkin, May 24, 2020