Let’s Pedal Together in this New Year

“The end of history is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” – Mark Fisher

The older I get the less I tend to observe any New Years rituals. The boundaries between years seem more about human concerns than any effect of the sun’s course in the heavens. As proof I offer 2021, which kicked off with some crazy 2020 vibes. I’ll defer the hot takes on yesterday to people smarter than myself. Let’s just say I spent way too much time doomscrolling (coupscrolling?) over the past 24 hours.

When I finally went downstairs to the woodshop around 3 pm yesterday and turned on my makeshift mp3 player, the random shuffle served up weirdo Morrissey’s song “Spent the day in bed” which has the chorus, “Stop watching the news, because the news contrives to frighten you.” As if yesterday wasn’t frightening enough, we got news this morning that a close relative has tested positive for COVID.

In the past week my great desire was to get back to my urban homesteading/appropriate technology lane. A journalist called me on Tuesday to interview me for an article on urban homesteading in a pandemic. She asked me what I thought of as the most important activity in the homesteading tool basket. I said that it’s not growing vegetables or canning things it’s getting to know your neighbors and forming communities of mutual support.

I am very thankful that our neighbor Jennie, several years ago, started a monthly neighborhood happy hour. When we can all safely gather together again I strongly suggest you consider starting a regular neighborhood gathering as well. Drop an invite in your neighbor’s mailboxes and throw a potluck. Not everyone will come but, hopefully, enough will to form a network. Focus on just having a good time. Don’t worry about organizing something formal. Just hang out and have fun. If you live in an apartment get everyone in the building together. If you don’t feel like hosting all the time have the gathering rotate.

Post-pandemic we transitioned our happy hour to a once every other week Zoom meeting and an email and text thread. On the email thread a neighbor a block over said that it really means a lot to him to know that he has neighbors who care and support each other. I completely agree. We’re not just neighbors, we’re friends and I take great comfort when I go asleep at night knowing that I’m surrounded by people who know and care about each other.

Post pandemic we aren’t going to return to the old normal. I’m hoping that the new normal will be that we wake up from the nightmare of separation and work together. That work begins over cocktails and food by simply enjoying each other’s company.

In the meantime let’s all stay safe. The next few months will likely be challenging.

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2 Comments

  1. You know, I’m going to seriously think about a regular neighborhood gathering. I live in a not-great neighborhood with a core group of owners and a fluctuating stream of renters. There are times when I could help the renters out (like, here’s how the trash service works), if we were in a friendly footing to begin with.

  2. On Wednesday afternoon, as I watched the mayhem, I was reminded of the final episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. As he recounted the story of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, he said, “So when, at long last, the mob came to burn the place down, there was nobody to stop them.”

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