(Also, it seems that, like working from home, it may be a habit people might keep afterwards, depending on convenience. Its probably one of the few growth sectors in the economy ATM)— Idiot/Savant (@norightturnnz) March 18, 2020
From the Herald article,
An Auckland woman in self-isolation has been left empty-handed after her online grocery order was cancelled without any warning.
The woman said her order at New World Stonefields comprised mostly of baby items and she was now working out how she would source her groceries
“We could have had someone else get everything for us but we’re now stuck.
There’s a conversation to be had, which the mainstream are already doing, about how to swiftly transition conventional systems into ones that can cope with the new landscape. For example, using a closed supermarket as a warehouse for online shopping. These processes take time (that Countdown example won’t be ready until sometimes in April), and smaller hacks within existing systems are being implemented too.
There’s been a new surge of panic buying in some places in NZ. Incognito mentioned in Open Mike about flattening the curve in relation to groceries, and we can be mindful here of the need for this, the relationship between our needs and supply lines. This isn’t new. In many circles conversations about how NZ only has enough food for three days in a big emergency is pretty normal (and may be part of people’s panic). But we’re not in that kind of emergency. The global system hasn’t collapsed, this is not a fast emergency despite all the stress of how quickly and often things are changing, it’s not a hard collapse. It’s that the demand has increased suddenly. That’s on the people.
Pertinent here is how many (or few) people trust society or the collective. We can and should be working on that. Lots of messaging to help people feel more secure would go a long way. How to share, how to trust, how to build security.
There’s another conversation that needs to happen too, which is the need for a cultural shift away from expecting the global food supply chain to be always the thing we rely on, and to working with our communities as our primary security. Someone in that woman’s street or wider area should be able to help with her shopping, but she is stuck because we don’t have those systems set up to be reliable either.
This isn’t always going to work of course, because humans are fallible and we’ve lost a lot of community skills in the last half century. But while I think changes to those conventional systems are needed, the wider need is to change in ways that not only meet the existing crisis but future proof us as well.
This is a particular skill set, I see it in regenerative, transition towns, permaculture sectors a lot, where it is normal to do both at the same time. The first thing I see about that is how many people will be assuming that this is a temporary crisis and that we will go back to normal in time. I think this is unlikely and that we are entering a long period of transition, but we don’t yet know what to. Being committed to it being something good would go a long way.
In my circles I’m see the understanding that we need to start growing more food where we live. This isn’t a fear based, survivalist action. It’s a recognition that we will probably need to take some of the pressure off the food supply lines this year. People who already grow food will see growing more as a natural extension of what they do, and a proactive response to the crisis. In terms of the point above about big picture resilient design, it dovetails neatly with two things.
One is future proofing. Relocalising food supply to any extent makes society more stable, because small, complex systems are inherently more resilient.
The other is that it’s exactly what we need to be doing anyway in regards to climate change. This is the ideal opportunity to get a number of things right, and it is very easy in NZ to get a lot more people growing food. Not everyone mind, but more.
The added benefits here are that gardening is something we can do while staying at home, and for many it is a great stress relief. It also keeps us fit instead of going to the gym. The bigger, longer pictures is we can create jobs from local food growing, keep money in the community where it belongs, and foster better community connections.
The middle classes need to do some heavy lifting here. Make resources available to low income people in our communities so that they can garden. Lots of ways that this could happen right now, from tool buying/sharing, to teaching propagation. If you can’t garden, but have the funds, then pay someone else to grow food for your and your community.
If you’re in a part of the country that has panic buying this week, maybe swing past the Mitre10 or local garden centre and pick up some seeds or seedlings for the garden, and share them around.
Mod note: please take care to be kind. We’re all stressed in various ways, and some are managing and some aren’t, so let’s cut ourselves some collective slack and make everyone’s lives easier, including the mods. If you can’t be kind please at least think about respect.