As a natural pattern observer and local resilience focused educator, it is very interesting to see how the new niches that have opened during the pandemic are being occupied by people. Some focus their attention on those who are already isolated and disadvantaged, making sure basic needs are met while wondering if the unfairness inherent in the current system is more visible to a wider group of people. Others provide entertainment and education in new ways.
Many people are crossing the digital divide and gaining new skills to become more connected in virtual spaces. Some industries completely pivoted their production lines to make PPE and alcohol based hand-sanitiser.
What might this all mean in what is called our “new normal” when we think about how communities develop themselves in future? The challenges of our times remain. Front line workers and those whose jobs were not interrupted during lock down and the slow “reopening” phases, may not have had any time for reflection, but others did.
I spoke to people involved in community development and transformative education, Transition, permaculture
, Active Hope, community gardens
, climate activism, school strikes
, and other justice and social activism in countless zoom workshops and meetings across Ireland in the last few months.
The common thread was a determination not to go back to the old normal, whether it was an idea to keep a village as car free as it had been during lockdown, or to end the exclusion and mistreatment of refugees in the current system in Ireland, or simply to try to keep some of the silver-linings that the pandemic brought into view, people were visioning it forward.
My hope for the European Day for Sustainable Communities
is that the events that happen in virtual or physical spaces in September 2020 continue to make these visions of change visible on the Island of Ireland. I also hope that the 30 events in Ireland in 2019 can be built upon and mirror all the examples of existing activity that the day has highlighted across Europe since it was initiated by ECOLISE
, the umbrella for a growing network of networks working for a sustainable fairer future.
The more we all stand up with these examples and weave the networks of those creating them internationally, the faster our tipping points may be reached for a positive new normal. The race is on the, the time is now.