This week, we have advice on how to save your summer and how to get out of an argument with a stranger. But before we get there, here’s how to keep entertained for the coming week and beyond.

  • We’ve got the best online events this week, including the Roots picnic, the BET Awards, a new movie from Jon Stewart and more: inquirer.com/calendar. And our kids calendar is updated every Sunday with ways to keep the kids occupied while you work: inquirer.com/kidscalendar.
  • How to do summer better this year: Everything you need to know about making the most of this summer is all here in one place: inquirer.com/topic/summer, and we’re adding more stories every week.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and, as much as possible, it’s still a good idea to stay home.

How do you make the best of this summer? We have answers.
Cynthia Greer
How do you make the best of this summer? We have answers.

Your reopening questions, answered

Do This

Don’t panic: Summer isn’t canceled. This summer is unusual in a lot of ways. Between COVID-19, the economic crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests, there’s a lot weighing on our minds. “Instead of frolicking around in the outdoors, I spent the summer solstice indoors watching a Little House on the Prairie marathon,” writes Elizabeth Wellington. But, she writes, it doesn’t have to be this way. Reclaiming summer is about bringing it back down to its essence, and finding ways to find the magic:

  • Out: traveling afar; In: discovering what’s nearby. The excitement of this summer’s discovery will revolve around ourselves. That doesn’t mean we have to stay cooped up: It means more time to spend in nature, meandering bike rides and hikes past the foamy streams along the Wissahickon River; jumping in the car for a road trip; or going for a scenic drive to a town you’ve never visited.
  • Out: parties with strangers; In: finding your people. Summer can be a hot and hazy blur of endless outdoor concerts and parties, spontaneous barbecues with new friends; where it’s easy to spend more time with strangers and acquaintances rather than people you really care about. But this is the summer for quality over quantity.
  • Out: air-conditioning; In: being outside. While we are getting reacquainted with friends and loved ones, we should reintroduce ourselves to our front porches, stoops, and courtyards. Spruce them up even. Talk to your neighbor, pack a picnic basket, play cards in a park. And watch the true magic of summer unfold.

More ideas for taking summer back in Elizabeth’s full piece.

Defuse This

Now that Philly is almost in the green phase, many of us will be near more people again, for the first time in a while. And, as Nick Vadala writes, “in Philly’s characteristically cantankerous style, that can lead to conflicts.” Nick talked to experts about how to defuse a situation if you find yourself arguing with someone about masks, personal space or social distancing. Here are some of the best tips:

  • Don’t take it personally. What’s important to keep the situation from escalating, says Tracy Hornig, an independent communications and conflict specialist, is to not take it personally — especially because it often isn’t. Think about the situation like an iceberg — the tip of which is the problem that you see. The larger problems are below the surface, and may be totally unrelated to to what seems like the problem in the moment. Try to have empathy.
  • Try to understand where they’re coming from. Don’t try to explain your way out of the dispute. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is that when they’re faced with a situation where somebody has become escalated, they try to resolve it by explaining why they did what they did,” Hornig says. “What it does is it can escalate the problem even further.”
  • It’s not about being right. Don’t go into a situation trying to change a person’s behavior, or try to be right — just try to keep things from getting out of hand. During some interactions, people are flooded with emotion, and it is difficult to have a logical discussion, says Randy Duque, deputy director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relation’s Community Relations Division. So it may be better to accommodate the other person, just to reduce tension and defuse the situation quickly.
  • It’s OK to walk away. Walking away gracefully, Duque says, means you leave the situation respectfully. Don’t make it seem like you are dismissing a person, or leave with a snide remark. It would be better to instead acknowledge the tension of the situation, and leave the conversation there.

More advice on how to de-escalate, in Nick’s full story.