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  • Shems Ghali

Are we really ready to move from the ‘New Normal’ back into the ‘Old Normal’?

As holiday restrictions were lifted and OMTM members ventured out further than the four walls of the UK, not only was it great to savour the taste of an authentic Italian pizza rather than a Dominos, eat prawns from the sea - not a packet, even experience a Netto rather than an Asda! It was also impressive/intriguing to see how seriously other countries take the COVID-19 precautions, in fact, more so than the UK.

It feels, at least to us in the UK, that we are slowly moving away from the pandemic but compared with other parts of the world, could be moving back into the ‘Old Normal’ too quickly? Across Europe masks are compulsory everywhere you go, hand sanitiser is given at every turn, temperature checks are a must along with check-in forms… And this sense of precaution doesn’t stop in Europe.

China has just unveiled plans for a new Eco-City. A sustainable neighbourhood powered by clean energy, featuring huge green spaces, almost no cars, offices, schools, gardens for homegrown produce that can supply up to 40% of a vegan's diet, co-working spaces and more.

In fact, this new city will have everything you’d ever need so you’d have no reason to leave. A self-contained city, that essentially runs itself “self-sufficient neighbourhoods where you live, work, and rest.”

Although this feels slightly Black Mirror it’s been built with another lockdown in mind. If there happens to be 'Rona part 2' this city is ready and can be isolated instantly.

“We are fighting in the crisis for life and for the climate at the same time,” says Vicente Guallarhe Barcelona-based architect, whose firm designed the mixed-use community.

Our travels (and this new city) have made us reflect on how we are dealing with the situation ourselves and whether we are doing enough. In our Human Future’s series, we spoke to people from all over the globe to explore their COVID experience and who, in many ways, happened to mirror the experience we were going through at that time. In other ways, they also opened our eyes to different experiences. Now we’re even more curious to find out how they’ve dealt with it since we spoke, are they back to a social life, what precautions do they take… could there be something we can learn?

On the other side of this, in the midst of this precaution, is a battle with freedom vs safety. Governments accused of misusing their power have been faced with protests against COVID regulations particularly in Berlin and London which is a big contrast from China who are building an entirely new city to secure safety. Our own values can really come into play here... as the situation continues to ebb and flow how can we know the best way to react? Do we favour freedom or security and what happens when this is in contrast to our friends, family or colleagues?

It’s interesting to see how we, as humans, and also a COVID society, have adapted and reacted over the last 6 months... What are we doing differently? What should we all be doing? What are we not doing enough of? What does the future look like? It’s something we need to explore further, so lookout for an updated Human Futures issue where we can discover this together.

Speak soon,

Shems, Research Assistant at One Minute To Midnight


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