The world we share is rapidly changing, and we are watching each day as more news of coronavirus (COVID-19) comes through. It’s the hot topic and it’s changing our everyday lives. Plans we had are gone, or on hold, just like that.
Our sympathies are with those who are most affected by this, our loved ones. And with the key workers called to action, especially nurses, doctors and NHS staff working overtime and without the proper protective equipment. We are genuinely feeling the effect this is having on our community and friends.
Somewhere inside us, we all knew at some point something had to give, the polarised society between the rich and the poor, the constant increase of the destruction of our rainforests, the continual rise in the production of toxic plastic, the mass drive for profit and greed. We are living in the time of the anthropocene.
A crisis brings up a time for unimaginable change, and this means that we also have a chance to purposefully and positively affect the trajectory we were previously on.
‘’Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken, depend on the ideas that are laying around.’’ Milton Friedman.
“We know this script. In 2008, the last time we had a global financial meltdown, the same kinds of bad ideas for no-strings-attached corporate bailouts carried the day, and regular people around the world paid the price.” Naomi Klein.
Watch the video and read more: https://interc.pt/2IOfBQb
Right now, governments and big business will use this crisis to push through policies that were very distant discussions before, for the worse or for the better. This is a time of great danger or opportunity.
There have been some more drastic measures taken that are not nice for any of us, like being home bound for the foreseeable. For those of us who can, a more positive outlook on this situation could bring about ideas and policies that were once seen as far too radical or unfeasible. In fact they are actually happening overnight…
- The demand to release detention centres, some 300 people from detention already released
- The homeless being housed in empty spaces (hotels)
- Government funds for businesses, the employed and self-employed at risk, showing for more socialist ideals
- Flights being cancelled, transport and travel restrictions leading to clear skies and less air pollution
- UK farm workers being recognised as key workers
- Bans on wild animal meat in china and calls to stop hunting and to shut down factory farming worldwide
But what would be disappointing for us and the generations to follow, is for big industries to be bailed out once again – the ones that are causing the most environmental damage, with disregard to making sizeable changes in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
What changes would we like to see, which are for all of our best interests? Potentially permanent changes that could fight poverty and the climate crisis, and at the same time mitigate the chance of another disaster of this kind. How and in what ways should we be returning back to work? How should we value jobs that sustain our lives?
“100 years ago we won the weekend & the 8hr day. Today we sure as hell can win a #4DayWeek.”
At Hempen we encourage a model of working 3 days a week, and for residents 1 day a week for the community. A shorter working week could improve the economy, our environment and our society as a whole. We don’t want to be confined to our work, needing time to rest and play. Less work could also mean we address inequalities, lack of time to live sustainably, and help to reduce carbon emissions.
At the very least, temporary enactment of UBI for three months throughout the crisis would mean the spike in renters being evicted recently could have been avoided. Every day we hear new ways in which the government plans to help alleviate financial hardship, though many businesses and people are left behind or in uncertain circumstances. If UBI was to be brought in for a few months, we can see how it might work for our economy in the long-term. Leaving people without a means of income in this crisis induces stress, which in turn lowers immune systems, somewhat counter productive.
For Hempen and for other not-for-profits, having access to the UBI provides the freedom for more people to create projects that are built from their own passions and skill sets, especially now when so many may face unemployment or lack of work. Though UBI needs to be enough to cover average rent prices and food to work effectively, and not just be a token amount.
In this emergency, we get a rare reality check of the type of jobs that are important. As our country heads into lock-down, NHS staff, cleaners and food producers are noticeably some of the key workers in our society. Note that the likes of airlines, banks and such are not in this mix.
Here at Hempen, our products are classified as food, and we continue to go about our daily business with some adjustments. We are already planting vegetable seeds to help create more food for our community, and are searching for ways to use our fields to be of more use. We hope many others are using their own gardens and gorilla growing in an abandoned or unloved spaces. Now is the time for councils to open up unused spaces to communities. There are signs of a global food shortage ahead, so we are calling for a government package to protect local food supplies and increase production. If you like the sound of that, please sign: https://www.change.org/LandArmySupport
We can be part of the debate and changes ahead, lets stay active!
Written by Sophia, Member of Hempen