A short time ago I had the good fortune to spend a lazy morning with a friend. She told me the story of a childhood in a rural community in Germany amongst multiple generations of women. They had a little shop in the community but they would make use of it once a month- not once a week. The communal life was strong and active in this self-sustaining village perhaps in part due to the need to collaborate and pool resources; people meeting once a week to bake their bread together in the communal bakery and so on.
The conversation openend a window into memories I had from visits to my father´s village in the Jazeera region of the Sudan. In both the case of my friend´s village and that of my father there was a quick change over the course of one generation. In my friend´s case the car industry made it self more present and something in the dynamics changed with a shift to making a living through employment. In my Father´s village´s case many moved to the capital in pursuit of higher education and yes, employment. In both cases this shift had a debilitating effect on the community resilience. In the case of the German village the community more or less died and in the Sudanese case city life did not live up to it´s promise as the lack of employment opportunities, precarious work situation and extremely low pay casts doubt on whether they were really better off. There is Making a Living, and then there is making to live.
As I was re-reading the posts on Edgeryders about how those of us at the edges of change are making a living in Europe it struck me that at the core of any discussion about the activities that sustain us, it is essential to ask ourselves questions about resilience and autonomy. Why? because the old welfare model, the one we inherited from our parents is beginning to need an upgrade as we move away from the industrial society to one in which the status of the long term, full-time employee is no longer the norm.
What things can I do on my own to provide for my basic needs, i.e. put a food on the table, a roof over my head, and my body and mind in good health in an urban environment?
Let´s play with the thought of needing to do this entirely without money exchanging hands- how would we do this? In the place I live and amongst the people I know what are social resilience and protection mechanisms that I could rely on should my bank suddenly stop working tomorrow? What if all our banks were to shut down tomorrow? We are already seeing this unfold in Greece and Spain but above and beyond the recent developments we really need to look for alternatives for a growing number of people outside the job paradigm. But as I watch the interveiw of Elf Pavlik by@Cataspanglish, I realise it´s not just about subsituting one transaction with another, but exploring alternative ways of relating to each other.
I would really really like to try mapping this out with other Edgeryders between now and #LOTE. A good place to begin is by mapping the alternatives currently available to me personally. I am moving to Brussels (Forest/St Gilles) in July, will have time, and would like to find free or cheap ways of securing food maybe through participating in a community garden or setting up some kind of vegetable production at or near my home (St Gilles/Forest).
So I posted the above as a blogpost and am asking people to suggest people or places I could contact in Brussels for this. I´ll report back as a comment here when I get some replies!