Its been over 12 months since SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) was officially declared by the World Health Organisation and in a mere month the United Kingdom was locked down.
As solution designers, the climax of the impending spread of this virus opened up a plethora of discussions into ‘new ways of working’ and how some of the principles for carbon reduction, flexible working, improved air quality, sustainable communities and local businesses all came to the forefront.
This global pandemic has been widely discussed, prior to the actual event, with the fore runners of SAR and MERS and the rise of Ebola spikes. As humans encroach on eco systems and the balance of the planet tips in the favour of humans over habitats, this pandemic was inevitable.
The virus had no boundaries and didn’t even need a passport, it spread from person to person, plane to plane, journey to journey, with one mission, to survive. A virus needs a host and it needs the host to survive, as it hinges its own mortality on the body it occupies. There is allot of synergies between Covid-19 and humans to how sustainable life is, and if we, as humans depicted as the virus, what we have done to our host, Planet Earth.
Whilst changes at a national level were slow to be responsive and effective, there was a new wave of support and kindness manifesting in streets, with everyone taking responsibility for the health and wellbeing of others. With billions globally in lockdown, unable to visit friends and family, goto work, attend schools and colleges, or even meeting in public places the flip-side was the struggle. This struggle is real and felt by so many in different ways, especially when every expression of loving kindness and compassion could equally bring illness and death.
How do you rebuild a society when you are confronted with the true uncertainty of human existence and how vulnerable life really is? You cannot model these probabilities or the uncertainty of our existence. This pandemic, and I say this one, as I am sure there will be more in my lifetime, has shown us how wrong we were and bought us face to face with the most basic questions of life, what are we here for?
What faces us next is working through the divide, as this pandemic has shown the gaps in status and power, rich and poor, it has shown us how terrible it is not to recognise the value in not only our friends, family, colleagues and fellow citizens but people we don’t know. Life is sacred and you truly do not know what tomorrow will bring.
The world is broken, politics and social systems, and maybe they only truly work when each citizen cooperates and inputs at the levels needed to make them work efficiently.
The Covid 19 pandemic has own and highlighted the need for new narratives and reformed governance and institutions, the only affiliation we can buy into now is the affiliation to our common humanity to overcome this pandemic together. This has already been proven with the international effort to innovate and develop vaccine programmes around the world. So, how can we learn from this collaboration, driven by industry and citizens to make the world more sustainable?
We have to think beyond what we know, beyond the parameters we are taught to operate in, and if we know how to overcome this pandemic now (rules, testing and vaccinations) then we have to face the hugely critical questions of the crisis that lay ahead such as climate change, cyberwar, financial crises with sustainable solutions for future generations. Our civilisation is at junction where change is needed now, and yet at a time of crises so many countries have retreated into populist nationalism. With so many questions burning at our conscience , these are the questions that the next generation will ask us - why didn’t you work together, communicate together, share, breakdown the walls of politics and nationalism, and help to save millions of peoples lives?
The time has come to mobilise goodness, to reevaluate what goals of business should really be, what is the goal of our economic activities, our ideologies and our local, national and international governance and structure. This pandemic has shown us there needs to be a simple purpose and goal that underpins the lot, contributing to the fulfilment of human needs and purposes.
We know that Food and Fuel Security is a real thing, and at Forty Two we are designing solutions to be bridging technologies which ‘plug the gaps’, create opportunities and sustainable community based skills, jobs and services that this pandemic has shown holes within. The Pandemic, a National Lockdown and the UK leaving the European Union and the border chaos, shows how fragile our food security is, that within 3 days major food outlets were starting to worry about the fresh supply to our nations.
At forty two we couple solution design with sustainable principles, and design products or services that stimulate debate, create a future and optimise opportunity for all. If we build a new world, and a new system of governance and action, then ordinary people have to be at the heart of the decision making and ownership alongside the removal of barriers to success that don’t benefit the community at large.
We have to be accountable to each other and to the next generation, so the world they inherit isn’t broken but rebuilt in the style of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing a broken pot with gold. Because it needs to be more valuable than its ever been, we have suffered damage but we can come back more beautiful than we were before.