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Author Bio

Jennifer Howell
Senior Manager of Public Relations

Jennifer grew up stargazing deep in the heart of Texas where the night sky is truly dark. While not working as Adler’s self- proclaimed head cheerleader, she is an obsessive political nerd with way too many shoes.

Google Hangouts, Dance Parties, At-Home Clothes…Oh My!

Staff members of the Adler Planetarium marketing team posing with newly branded Adler sweatshirts in January 2020.

How Adler Staff is Staying Connected During These “Unprecedented Times”

Header Image: Staff members of the Adler Planetarium marketing team posing with newly branded Adler sweatshirts in January 2020.

On a cosmic scale, there is very little distance between us. However, when you’re used to collaborating in person to create memorable experiences for an iconic Chicago attraction, the distance during unprecedented times like these can feel immense. 

Over the past few weeks, Adler Planetarium staff (like the entire global population) has had to adjust to a new normal during this time of social distancing. In-person meetings have turned into Google Hangouts. Commuting has gone from sitting in traffic or on a crowded train to rolling out of bed; work-from-home wear is now a thing. While we may be secretly celebrating not setting an alarm clock or commuting, many of us are feeling socially disconnected from our friends who also happen to be work colleagues. Social distancing has become our new way of life, but we’ve decided we don’t have to feel socially distant. We’re reminded daily whether at the museum or at home that we remain connected under the sky we all share. Here are some of the ways our staff has been staying connected to the world and each other. 

Daily Team Check-ins

As ⅛ of the Adler’s marketing and communications team, I eagerly anticipate the team check-in that we have first thing every morning via Google Hangouts. We purposely do video chats so that we can see each other’s faces and who might need a pick-me-up. Our conversations are much like the usual water cooler banter from days of yore, but can also serve as a groupthink on a given task as needed. The upside of working virtually and “seeing” my teammates is that our new colleagues have expanded to include pets, children, and partners who often pop in to say hi, give a wave, or a paw shake. We’ve even started doing MTV-style crib sessions to get to know our coworkers on an even more personal level. 

Staff members of the Adler Planetarium participating in a daily virtual check-in from home.
Image Caption: Staff members of the Adler Planetarium participating in a daily virtual check-in from home.

Inspirational Messages, and a Cosmic Dance Party 

Our President and CEO Michelle Larson may be an astrophysicist by training, but she definitely knows the value of music to soothe the soul. Every morning, she sends an inspiring email to the entire Adler staff with an uplifting message and a related song. Her very first email to us:

Team Adler:

While we may be physically distant for a while, we remain connected under the sky we all share. I ask you to look up every day and think about your Adler family. We’re looking up at that same cloud, moon, or star. I’m thinking of you.

In addition to looking up, each day I will be sharing a song with you. Turn it up loud and give yourself a break from these crazy times. Dance, and know others will be dancing too. Be strong, be well.”

Michelle’s song selections range from country to classic rock, and everything in between including an original by her singer-songwriter daughter. We’ve enjoyed the song selections so much that Michelle created a Spotify playlist, which we want to share with our readers! Check out the playlist LookUp&Dance on Spotify. 

New Uniforms

Yes, leggings are now sanctioned work wear, and we’re also fans of flannel pants and fuzzy socks, but not everyone at the Adler values the benefit of “dressing down” during our self quarantine days. Our Manager of Experience Development, Meredith Stepien has raised the bar with her “at-home clothes” (self-coined term). From dressing as an Ewok from Star Wars, to a bright shiny star in gold lame, to a character straight out of a Jane Austin novel, Meredith always keeps us laughing. Here is one of our favorite “at-home clothes” looks of hers:

Meredith Stepien wearing her "at-home" clothes for virtual meetings.
Image Caption: Meredith Stepien wearing her “at-home clothes” for virtual meetings.

#This_is_baking_me_crazy

The Slack channel name might rotate, but the foundation of the channel remains consistent; it’s the place where the chefs, the foodies, and the followers of The Great British Bake-Off unite. What once was a monthly themed food fest in the office, has turned into a virtual Hangout where coworkers still show off their creations, but then consume them individually and self-rate. Recipes and a love for food are shared as if nothing has changed.  

One more…

I hope you have enjoyed a few of the positive ways we are staying connected to our Adler family, and perhaps you can find your own inspiration in ours.

As the author of this blog, I wanted to share a couple of lines from one of my favorite songs. It not only puts things in perspective, but expresses perfectly how I feel about my Adler works colleagues, and all of our guests. TURN IT UP… and DANCE:

On a spinning ball in the middle of space

I love you from your toes to your face- 

-Train “If it’s Love”

FOLLOW US!

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Author Bio

Jennifer Howell
Senior Manager of Public Relations

Jennifer grew up stargazing deep in the heart of Texas where the night sky is truly dark. While not working as Adler’s self- proclaimed head cheerleader, she is an obsessive political nerd with way too many shoes.

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