Warning: What follows here is a bit of rant, where I didn't hold back on my gloomy cynicism. Spreading negative energy is the last thing I want to do, especially in this wonderful @ecotrain community. At the same time, I feel a bunch of suppressed emotions under the surface, just begging to be shared. So here it is, my honest opinion. Please treat it as such. I never meant to blacken anyone's hopes, but I do want to share my feelings. It may resonate with some of you too.
This Week's Questions: Indefinite Lockdowns
One of the reasons I enjoy Ecotrain's Question of the Week is because oftentimes it confronts me with thoughts and notions I just can't ignore. This time the case is even sharper, as it's asking us quite specifically: What can you do to prepare yourself for indefinite lockdowns without having to leave your home or move location?
Indefinite Lockdowns??? You mean this situation is not going to end anytime soon, maybe never? Okay, this is the first shock we must overcome, realizing that there is a good chance this insanity will continue for years to come. But wait, hadn't we been complaining about a number of ongoing insanities for a while? Sure, for as long as I can remember. So what's different about this current one, then?
We Just Don't Know Where We Are
Before Covid, we knew about the degradation of soil fertility around the world, the massive disappearance of species, the incredible amounts of plastics in even the remotest regions, and the fact pretty much every year is a new record breaker for temperatures. Still, there was a sense of normality, and we knew what we could do, and what we couldn't. And that was enough to give us a map of the situation, so we could come up with a strategy of getting where we wanted to go: to a sustainable lifestyle, self sufficiency, renewable energy and appropriate technology, sharing resources as a community and letting them grow further, and last but not least, living in, of, and with nature.
These points of destination are still the same. What has changed is simply our place on the map: where we are and how we could get there. After all, the curious thing about this destination, is that you can't arrive alone. It takes at least a community, preferably a society, but ideally everyone to a certain extent. And we've been moving in the right direction, even if at such a slow pace that it may not even be apparent.
Sometimes I imagine being back in the 50's, where dumping your picnic trash into the pristine lake that you came out to see was the most accepted thing in the world. How could I address global environmental issues to a culture with such a mindset. At the same time I like to imagine I'm talking to people two generations in the future, who are hopefully so amazingly conscious about the life around us, that building fertile soil is what all of them do without thinking. (And yes, we could do that too...!)
Seeing this gradual progress in the right direction, it becomes especially sad to see how after arguing about plastic straws for weeks, suddenly we're ditching more plastic trash than ever before, as a result of a surge in take-out food. Half a step forward, then two back? That's not even salsa dancing!
So what I'm getting at is this: At a time when we are all locked into our own little worlds, the most important thing we can do is connect with everyone we can, who is also moving in the same direction. Maybe they are further ahead, which will inspire us to get there too. Or they might be just starting out, looking for someone to encourage them or show them the way. And since we are generally restricted from traveling, spatial location is becoming less important, so we need to focus on keeping connections in other ways.
In recent months at least three of my favorite Hive bloggers have relocated to Portugal, precisely as part of their journey in this direction. As excited as I was about their plans and ideas, I did not move to Portugal myself. Instead, I got involved in two other projects on the American continent, which helped me avoid much of the Covid craze, but at the moment I find myself in Mexico City (again and still), seemingly faaaar far away from sustainable life.
Doing What You Can, If You Can Do It
For people stuck in consumerist, urban situations, I can only repeat what I'd been saying all along: Do what's in the realm of your possibility: grow a rooftop garden, herbs on your windowsill, mushrooms in your bathroom, spirulina, kombucha, water kefir. Sell your sprouts at the local market, harvest and filter your rainwater, and compost your kitchen waste with worms.
All this hasn't changed, only the appearance. Sure, the local market may be closed, and we won't get to see all those inspiring folks out there who have been practicing one aspect or another of what we ultimately want to do ourselves. But this is all just the looks. Thanks to the lockdown(s) there may be many more people heading our way, we just can't see them out there. So let's get back to my previous point, and start making connections!
Looking on the Bright Side
No, this is no ironic remark here. I'm serious about trying to look for positive things all around us. Take the new Covid mutation called B.1.1.7 which is wrecking havoc on the British Isles these days. Far more contagious than the original strain, it has already made its way around the world, so within the next few months we can expect a similar surge in infections worldwide, as in the UK right now. It's not easy to find a positive thing about this, other than herd immunity. Since this new strain is so fast spreading, it may just as well have completed its rounds before the vaccine. In other words, we won't need the vaccine any longer, since 2/3 of the population will have been infected already.
I'm not making any predictions here, since this would obviously cut into the projected profits of those interested in vaccinating us, and who knows what alternative scheme they will come up with instead. My point here is: we should be ready for change, embrace uncertainty, and deal with whatever the world throws at us. If we can continue our journey into the right direction, we'll be okay.