Many of us had experiences in the past that helped us see that something fundamentally is wrong w the social-ecological world. Climate at its very last moment to turn around. Authoritianism creeping into all institutions. Everything we do tracked. & human connections freyed.
& we’ve all reached different thresholds where we had to go act. Fighting the whole time against the human tendency to normalize things but aside from that tendency these are not normal times. They are escalating.
There has always been a hope that the large scale institutions that run that scale of things would ultimately shift. But we have to remember they formed to build the 20th century out of the collapse of the old empires and the wreckage of the world wars. 3
Like a lot of people, I have some pathological behaviors and many of them stem from experiences when I was young where I built a part of myself to do a job to keep myself safe. And now that i’m an adult that part still performs its naively-conceived duty. 
The only way forward is be kind but firm to myself. “Thanks for how hard you are working. But you know what, self, you did it and it’s no longer needed, you can stop” and then start looking again at what is really needed.
How will we know when we’ve actually moved into a period of addressing the fundamental questions of our time right now? How will it feel even later with a new version of a world with secure food, safe people, improving climate, improved ability to communally steer?
Get a pure feeling of that. Doubts aside. It’s 15 years from now in a timeline where we get through this. How have we changed?where ever you are in this future looking back, get a sense of how it feels to be there.
In your minds eye look to your right and left. Dreams can fill our environments instantly with detail. What buildings, people, plants, objects, animals, landscapes surround you? What are you engaged in? How does your body feel? How much more wise are you now?
This you in this place. How do you feel? Now look back to the period from 2020 to now. It really was a lot of work, wasn’t it? You and your friends and family had to change and do so much to get there. Remember it with the energy of someone looking back.
If only you knew then in 2020 what you know now in 2035. Because you made it through actions, collaborations, kindness, attention, growth, loss, grieving, adapting, challenging yourself and others.
In my world looking back I remember the tough years at first. Learning lessons. Planting a lot of gardens in poor quality soil and changing climate and sociology-political uncertainties. But through trial and error and luck we made enough food in cities to get through it.
I remember fifteen years ago working with you all to plant millions of chestnut trees that now in 2035 are producing my kitchen where I stand in 2035 has bread and pasta made of that harvest.
Those gardens and trees fed people in meetings, assemblies, rallies, strikes, power outages, and more. Providing direct energy to build the world i’m standing in in 2035.
Looking around my kitchen in 2035 I see nettles, perrenial kale, dandilions, caucus mountain spinich all as greens. All food grown within walking distance of where I am. Cooperatives made of people who struggled through the 2020s together to build this world.
The temperature of the water in my sink comes from the wood compost I see out my window. My feet feel the warmth of the clay floor i’m standing on full of heat from circulating pipes taking that compost heat. It rises & mingles w air warmed by sunlight from south facing windows.
And I look back to how hard it was. How many seeds died, how many people found out we had become so isolated we didn’t know how to find talk care and work together. But we learned. On the way. As we built and planted the world that worked for all.
As I turn and look at what was behind me I see people. People I know. Who all have their own stories of the ‘20s. But here they are, strong, capable, weirdly train educations for another time and now highly skilled in all the things they had to learn over the previous 15 years.
I remember the intensity the old system fought to keep pursuing a plan that was going to ruin us. And among my friends I do see the scars of people jailed, injured, diseases without health care, periods of hunger.
But now I see them here and now in 2035. Fed and hopeful. Making their lives and passing on what they learned
I remember how scary and exciting it was to dig up parks, to plant seeds, to share in new ways, build new supply chains from trash and repurposed junk and to build coalitions during pandemic, drought, fires, storms, militia occupations, and normal everyday life.
It was also hard to regain the old methods of coordination: knocking on doors, potlucks, word of mouth, carrier pigeon, secret phases, in person cafes, metaphor and symbol.
Meetings while working were especially hard for a lot of people.
But now in 2035 we have a food tree maturing for every person. Towns take care of a large part of their food supplies and biomass and most people are involved in the work of helping restore the land that was given back.
Walking the city green with growing trees. Food for everyone that could last 1000 years. Every October everything stopping for nut gathering and festivals. November milling & processing. Something so secure about that in a way I don’t think someone from 2020 could understand.
The groups that harvest now are the ones that ten years earlier planted them. gathered in backyards, knocked on doors, talked with parks managers, filled out permits, & also just acted. Each person took responsibility for feeding the rest & one crisis at a time, people joined
Fuck, it was hard though. But it was sometimes a lot more fun then the ‘10s were.
The wood heated seat in the communal greenhouse is cozy and I put another log of coppiced black locust in it. Eating some chestnut bread salal-blackberry preserves I think about how close it came, how close it still is. Even with all the changes and a society redirected to repair
Right now w/everyone acting the carbon levels have stalled. The temperature since 2030 has been hovering oscillating around 1.5 degrees. Biological fecundity will do the work &get us back to the Holocene but we are also having to rebuild a lot of ecology &stop runaway processes.
It took rebuilding things from the ground up literally. Enough biomass and photosynthesis set up to build a trophic web capable of local democracy and then up to higher level coordination. That took a lot of chestnut fueled meetings.
One thing I really appreciate is the thoughtful redesign happening in everything less resources but increasing responsibility really brings out creativity. Simple multifunctional always with the goal of widening photosynthesis & soil storage as well as holding and spreading water
I visited one of the new towns designed much the same way as the hill towns in 16th century Italy: people living on hills w winding roads lined with food trees. Extra water directed into basins capped w beautiful piazzas full of people. Finally spreading grow trees & food below.
The towns feed people but also are set up to stop flooding, reverse erosion, store huge amounts of carbon, provide beautiful community-facilitating places. I notice my clothes also grown and woven nearby. Fiber plants in the towns too, and sheep visit the areas designated meadow
All this took labor and time and struggle and learning. Hurt backs and community drama and not being sure how things would play out and not wanting to take risks and having no real models for what to do.
Community leaders in now were often shunned as rocking the boat back then. And the 20s were turbulent times it was hard to know which people and projects were on to something. Hell we weren’t even allowed out of our homes for the first two years of the 20s!
Small acts many failures. Trial and error. We built external and internal capacity. Something grew from underneath and by the time it had coalesced mid-decade it felt inevitable. That was a new feeling. The inevitability of something new.
Looking back it wasn’t inevitable. It could have gone so many different ways. But the story the feeling and the millions of stronger, more centered, wiser passionate people with gardens and friend groups and simple steps is what got us there.
One of the hardest things was getting back up after a plan failed. Chestnuts died, a political campaign didn’t win, drones announced with loudspeakers that you shouldn’t be out gardening. Thank the gods for mulch and perrenial foods.
We learned to aknowledge the loss, grieve quickly& at exactly the full scale of the loss. Rewrite our maps to match the changing terrain, build on what had been achieved. People knowing each other, new skills, when not to plant chestnuts, how to garden under a cover or at night
Now, in 2035, that’s what I remember of the years that got us here. I’m tired at times but healthier then I’d ever been I wake up ready to get back to work. I take care of my connections. I see those around me doing that to. We really didn’t observe enjoy & listen enough before.
I really wonder now with all these feelings and memories and wisdom you have, what you would say to your 2020 self. What you know now i’m 2035 that you didn’t know then
I’m so curious how, feeling this better world, looking back at those real problems you had been facing, how something changes
I have a huge amount of faith in you. And I know there is a part of you that deeply knows how to act in ways that heal yourself and world. Here in 2020, let yourself really listen to what your future self has to say, show, give.
And I wonder how you will first notice that you are already gaining momentum and transforming in just the ways you need to make that future unfold.
Will it be the garden growing around you? Will it be the kindness & focus you show your friends and stranglers? Will it be the sense of something larger becoming? Will it be really facing the things in the way? Or realizing that you’ve actually already finally grieved something?
Here in 2020 where are you? Notice your body, your breath, the sights and sounds around you larger then your screen. You can let that future self do their work begins the scenes while you inhabit that same presence to this time and place. This adventure is just starting.
Hey, thanks for your time and attention. 🌰
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