New issue of FFA leads on the creative ways the UK’s high streets are being reinvented

The issue also reports on people who have quit high-carbon careers to work for the planet, plans to create the world’s largest urban garden and how comedy lessons are being prescribed to trauma survivors. Lucy Purdy, editor-in-chief, introduces it

“Someone has always clinked a cocktail glass in one hemisphere as someone loses a home in another,” read the Instagram post that caught my eye the other day. “The fact that suffering, mundanity and beauty coincide is unbearable and remarkable,” it continued.

Many of us have experienced such dichotomies as we watched the events unfold in Ukraine. Some of our readers report feeling angry, guilty, or compassionate.

So how can we respond to such a crisis, and the information surrounding it, if we’re lucky enough to be somewhere that feels relatively safe and removed from the frontline?

Oliver Burkeman has some wisdom on this subject. Marinating 24/7 in horrifying news or impotent outrage doesn’t help anyone, he suggests. However, it might be worth limiting your news intake and focusing on the things that you can do. That could be taking practical actions to support displaced citizens (and we’ve rounded up some options in this issue’s regular Sparks feature). Or it might simply mean focusing – as friends, employees or parents – on the things closer to home that help create the kind of world you’d like.

As I hope you’ll experience reading this issue, examples of the best in humanity are unfolding all around us, too. Our cover story, about efforts to re-energise the UK’s beleaguered high streets, features people up and down the country who are fully stocked with passion and purpose.

We also talk to three people who left high-carbon jobs in order to channel their talents towards the benefit of the planet.

As I hope you’ll experience reading this issue, examples of the best in humanity are unfolding all around us

Our journalists report on how lessons in comedy could help trauma survivors to thrive; on a Brazilian bid to create the world’s largest urban garden; and on the inspiring charge to be found in community-owned energy at a time when our dependence on fossil fuels has never felt more ominous.

Miranda Keeling, author of Elsewhere, sees beauty and magic in everyday living. “You’ll see that we live in a world of wonders,” she reflects. “Not always gobsmacking, fall-off-your-chair marvels. But things of quiet beauty.”

As geopolitical horrors threaten to deafen us into powerlessness, then beauty – of both the quiet and bolder variety – is perhaps among the things we can engage with. There are many stories to follow.