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When all this was over



Who would have known that all the old men, the old women, all their knowledge and experiences, all the people with asthma and diabetes, all the poor people and the indigenous people and disabled, the doctors, nurses and the ill would suffer and die so much from one moment to the next?

But by the time all the waves, all the quarantines and thousands dying every day, we had changed our society. We had been forced to reorganise, if we wanted to enjoy a life even a little bit like the life we had before the pandemic. We wanted to go out, we wanted to have some comfort, but we wanted to have food, to be able to offer some hope to our children, we needed a basis on which to build our lives.

But we dealt with it, back in the 20s. We rebuilt into a new society, and the names of those who suffered and died, of the doctors and activists, whistleblowers and rent strikers are now the names of our streets.

I am standing outside a replica of an urbanisation, a block of flats in hexagonal shape, typical of the Eixample neighbourhood in Barcelona, somehow transplanted to rural Scotland. Why did we bring a building design from so far away? Because wind power was our main source of energy, and this system, together with some iranian ingenuity has given us both a regulated temperature and electrical production. We use wind power channelled between the buildings to provide energy, warmth and fresh air. 30 Families live here side by side each one in six separate apartment blocks forming a wind rose. We are what is known in post covid scotland as a block community. A single isolating unit whose members may socialise between each other.

Here, just in the north east building we have a doctor, a dentist, a baker, a butcher, we manage the disinfection of a  weekly delivery that some of the younger inhabitants help with.

When there was the last of the recurring outbreaks near Manchester, we closed our doors for 2 months and survived on what we had in our block, in our small circle of people. Although our tiny communities are like a permanent lockdown system allowing us a simple social and economic life, it is backed by the state structures we can no longer rely on as we once did, and for many months in a year, we do without the supermarkets, the hospitals and airports and are forced to be healthy, to do manual work. On harvest days there is a regular rota of people from the blocks going to the fields in a constant timetable of workers, each working only with their block group..

As the crumbling pre pandemic structures began to show they couldn't really deal with adapting, new forms of governance emerged. We now had a social contract, an individual list of ethical vows and choices, that kept changing as our own beliefs and connections changed. It replaced the concept of a constitution as there was nothing to constitute, just individual agreements between people so they could all go on existing. Our new internet permitted this. We had kept most of the internet from before, just in a more disjointed way as the large providers closed down or went "elite", and as citizen wifi initiatives and data coops started to replace the bankrupt city networks and the mainstream internet, which had become a pay as you go nightmare due to crashing IT giants.

At the corner of the building, on the opposite side, we can see the next community, just a farm´s distance from ours. Each block community is surrounded by a green ring that brings them most of their nutrients and about a third of their total food intake. The rest comes from the old world of Tesco, Sainsburies and the like. Some of us don't practice farming in blocks, or they do but at a very reduced rate. These are the light industry blocks. A very different looking specialisation with a lot more machinery where our community is more farm based, the next one along is more industrial. We each grow enough food to sustain our own little group with minimal imports of whatever we can't produce inside.This way we really reduce the chance for any outbreak to get out beyond our walls, and for it to get in, as there is a shared policy between neighbour associations that each block will quarantine as soon as there is a case.

Many of the inhabitants take part in regional politics and coordination as well as remote working online, and there is now a federated internet that accompanies the more expensive services that have to be acquired by satellite or other expensive methods. But then they have to walk along the green path from the corner of our block, that leads to our fields. They have to work in the fields, harvest and sew just like everyone else.

We are not perfect, but we are a mini society, with all it's quirks, with injustice, protest, and sometimes progress, and even vague social classes although they no longer mean the same thing as before.In our little block we can usually socialise with the others, as we are a closed network, and most residents never leave the block and the adjoining lands and gardens if they aren't in the transport and delivery block.

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