Future society

Letter from the Future | My dear kids…

nwe corridor_auto time stamp 12.02.64_05.37
sender ls_id123221212

My dear kids,

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, but I’ve quietly followed your digital chatter to keep abreast of where you all are. Let me first say: I am so proud of all of you.

I admire how you have handled all the changes in the past thirty years, facing each new situation with creativity and resilience.

Truth be told, there were moments I felt guilty having borne you into this world that was so obviously heading for disaster. My generation started out thinking that it was just a matter of time and perseverance to solve all these massive global issues. And I think we were all a little shocked to find that our optimism had facilitated worse habits than ever before.

Because really, who needed all that nonsense anyway? Showing your identity through things? A fully new Christmas décor every year? Spring cleaning becoming spring refurnishing? Cars expanding from simple vehicles to armored guzzlers? In the city?

Pockets of progress were visible when you were still young. I particularly appreciated the measures taken by Anne Hidalgo in Paris. She started by cutting down car lanes to encourage bikes and then followed through by raising taxes exponentially on the vehicles she wanted out of the city. They laughed at first, but now Paris is exemplary – a garden of Eden, with trams, bikes and pedestrians in the streets, urban agriculture providing half the food sources, and a thriving local economy.

So now we all live a little smaller, and repair instead of replace. That was unthinkable during the high tides of market capitalism but most people found ways to maintain and extend the lives of their more precious possessions.

But you three, you showed me true grit. The kind that comes from deciding not to give up. Some of your friends did, along the way. But you guys just kept forging forward, through the collapse of educational institutions, through food restrictions, energy distribution quota, and mobility stamps.

And how you have found your way!

K, you were always so self-sufficient. Little wonder you found your tribe in the new agro-commons. You were such an important part of that first group focused on low-impact food security. You enhanced the local farming habits of northwest Europe with your own research on indigenous agricultures in warmer climates. You patiently worked your way through so many crossbreeds and experimented with endless patches of microbial and fungal enrichments to enhance the nutrients and the hardiness of your crops. We exchanged many messages about your initial failures, but step by step the crops improved. And now you’re feeding not only your region, but helping others expand too! Your insight in the seasonal and annual rhythms of your plants is paralleled only by your determination.

M, you never left the city. I don’t know why I thought you would, maybe just because I felt you deserved better. But I guess you share my love for this city. And don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have one of you all nearby. Since the regional transport networks collapsed you’re the only one I see in person. And yes, despite our medieval pace, communication networks are still strong. But can you blame a mother for wishing the occasional Sunday family dinner was still an option? Nevertheless, you amazed me with your ability to anticipate the future. I worried sometimes that you would fall into an escapist mode, jumping from festival to festival until they disappeared. But no, you found purpose in your ability to connect the dots, to engineer solutions to social ills with your very own brand of empathy and systemic thinking. No more hospitals? You got the first care networks running in four neighborhoods at once. Where did you even find the people with expertise? But I guess we could always trust you to know everyone and to bring them together. Your friends with houses opened their doors to a constant buzz of new medical workshops and care groups. You brought in your sister’s herbal and fungal experiments, which gave rise to a whole new track of medicine meets old European witchcraft! And you just constantly biked between all of them, doing pickups and deliveries, making sure each group had their medicine woman, their shaman and their nurses.

And T, my quietly determined eldest. Not for you, all this social fabric that M set up. You retreated, but from the area, not from society. I am glad you have a partner in all of this, or I would worry more about loneliness. Your self-chosen exile to the northern communication servers means we never see you anymore. You still hold rigorously to your daily routines, which is a blessing for the communities here – we had a number of temporary blackouts which you always seemed to resolve in mere hours. I sometimes wonder if you don’t need a break, but you’ve always said you’re comfortable with your responsibilities. It took me some getting used to when you first left. At first I worried about the structural integrity of your self-built server farm, piggybacking off older cables that crossed the North Sea. But as you proved its continued stability my concerns subsided. I still sometimes worry about your solitude, but you continue to be your affable self, unflustered and always helpful. And now you’ve become one of the pirate server elders, advising the newbies in this patchy communications network on how to manage energy shortages and decaying infra.

As for me, I quietly follow your lives at a distance. I still go on my monthly trek out to our coastline and sit along the beach with L. We watch the waves continue to eat at the shore. It’s already extended far inwards – our trek gets shorter every year, if not every month. But this is your world now, not ours. And I admire how you have each found your own way of expressing your love for the world: feeding it, facilitating care for those who suffer, and ensuring everyone remains connected virtually if not physically.

You have each held on to the qualities that are there, instead of pining away for what was lost. It’s hard to imagine where the world will go from here, but our communities are in good hands with you and your tribes.


nwe corridor_auto time stamp 12.02.64_05.37
sender ls_id123221212

In the 2020s she was still employed in traditional academia, fully engaged in teaching and discussing possible responses to the climate crisis with her students. By 2034, she quit her job and retreated into reading and writing fiction, figuring that reality had turned into a bad disaster movie anyway.

Wondering how and why we are receiving letters from the future? Check it out here and write one yourself! At our For Love of the World Festival, the letters will be put on display for everyone to read.