Thoughts and Actions in Sociable Dystancopia

Extolling the virtues of a sanctioned general strike, AKA the stay-at-home order

Edition 1: The Garden

Free community vegetable stand Beaverton Oregon COVID-19 lockdown
Free fruits, vegetables, and flowers from a home gardener during the COVID-19 lockdown quarantine. Beaverton, OR.

“I don’t understand why she would tear up a beautiful lawn and plant vegetables! Why do that if a [insert corporate grocery chain here] is down the street?”

“That’s exactly why she did it.”

Politicians are engineering The Reopening®, as if people are programmable consumers. But what if during the shut-in, people learned how to make their homes more productive?

This is what we’ve done with our time off. I suppose many others have done the same.

One thing I haven’t spent much time on is photography.

While the spring blooms peaked, I did a walkabout. But that’s about it, because that’s all there was for the most part. And that’s okay. I’m good if someone else looks for empty streets or protests.

Many images on my website are now available for free download, without watermark. So I did that. My views on this have changed over the years. People who don’t share are lonely and bitter, to echo the sentiments of Paulo Coelho.

Photographers, there is more to life than your camera and imagery. Time off is good. So is learning other skills be it to enhance formal and informal local trade, or personal use.

And you’ll need horizontal mobility, because cost pressures won’t be abating for most creatives… or anyone. Indeed, dependency is high risk and “jobs” are soon to be anachronistic for many.

So what does an image maker do in Sociable Dystancopia?

If you’re like me and have the space, then you garden. In fact, you can garden and harvest quite a bit in small spaces or indoors. We see it as part of our long-term health care and retire at the bottom plan.

We’ve sowed into hacked together beds or containers broccoli, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, Swiss chard, kale, and garlic. All in a 10′ space. It’s actually sub-optimal yield. More could be grown. But so far, so good. We’ll eat well and reduce our dependence on the supply chain a bit.

Next year we’ll take it up a notch. We have plans to overwinter plants. Also, a no dig garden project, to rehabilitate our soil into a permaculture. We live in the suburbs, yo. What’s your excuse?

Natural living systems can be a great teacher, too. I suspect that understanding complexity will be a key to success, as this century goes on. Not that it will be a guarantee for wealth or fame, but adaptation will smooth over what’s fragile. And if your best skill is Photoshop, then you’re not antifragile.

Why you want insects to nibble at your kale

You’ll learn from a garden that nature does most of the work. It’s good to let go, to see where the light shines. Don’t try so hard. Loosen your grip.

I’ll give you one example. Place garlic under a rose bush.

It turns out aphids like garlic, but they love roses. So the rose bush sucks them away from your future food. On first thought, you’d think that wouldn’t work. But upon intuitive reflection, it makes natural sense.

There is a bonus, too. Similar to how nature provides a new tapestry for your camera everyday, garlic is reproducible without having to buy another one.

In other words, placement and patience matters. Sort of like knowing where to stand, when shooting a landscape picture. Nature points the way.

Speaking of aphids, we love the insects here and so should you, because if they’re not snacking on your food, then why would you?

So don’t mind the small nibblers of your creative work. You know, the random bots human or digital who grab your pictures. They place them around a stigmergy of fractal geometry, indirectly building free and open culture.

After all, if the bots don’t want to pick from your digital harvest now and again, then why should anyone?

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