Imagining hope, the future Somerville

566647857_8918df67abHere’s my own foray into imagining hope like crazy, which was published in Tim Devin‘s zine, The History of Somerville, 2010-2100. The ‘history’ ranges from wildly idealistic (I wasn’t the only one to predict the end of fossil fuels, solar collectors on every roof, and crops growing in the streets) to dead serious (flooding from climate change, collapse of the world economy, no more harvestable seafood) to deadpan (a dog becomes mayor; the Somerville Arts Council accepts its first artificially intelligent board member, Ip/So; Hurricane Igor decimates the town), as is the way with the folk of the ville.

My own prediction was for 2148 — outside the timeline. I wasn’t that optimistic. But what the hey, hope is hope.

Notes from a time traveler. Written on plain lined paper, found in a decaying leather suitcase in a closet in West Somerville around 1999.

So I accepted the invitation to time-travel to Somerville in 2148. The invitation came from a little bird – a grey bird, like a mockingbird, only smaller. (And then, he spoke to me, in English, inside my head, so I knew he wasn’t a regular mockingbird.) He says he will be my travel guide.

As we come flying in over the city, I am dazzled by the rooftops. They are covered with solar collectors of all shapes and sizes. The ones like mobiles wink and glitter when the breeze stirs them. The rooftops that happen to be flat are green with gardens – grape arbors and climbing roses, vegetables and herbs, even trees. As we circle Davis Square, I can see that the rooftops have hanging gardens, and even open meadows of grass and wildflowers.

No one’s using fossil fuels anymore, the bird says. It’s changed everything.

He adds that there’s no advertising anymore, either – no commercials, no newsprint advertisers dumped in mailboxes, no flyers, no print catalogues, no billboards, no focus groups, no glossy magazines, no spam, no telemarketers, no pop-ups. How did that happen? All the bird will say is that the word yuppie is no longer in use, anymore than the words homeless or disadvantaged.

Many of the roads have been dug up and planted. The houses in rows are still there, but now the rows tend to curve, and from above the neighborhoods – like little tribal enclaves – are obvious, even though they run into each other. Streams knit and divide the neighborhoods – the bird says the streams are all the water that used to run free above ground, released from their long darkness, as well as irrigation creeks, running off every which way, and glinting with the quartz in them.

Highland Avenue is planted as far as I can see with spirals of corn, and tucked in next to the corn are all kinds of plants, that the bird says are vegetables and flowers. Around the spirals are greenhouses for vegetables and fruit;* but the greenhouses are in the process of being dismantled for the summer, as the orchards and gardens come in.

*Here’s a link to an organic urban farm in Detroit, MI called Earthworks. Earthworks has greenhouses as part of the farm; it’s connected to a soup kitchen, WIC programs, youth programs, etc. The farm was started in 1997, part of the movement in Detroit to reclaim and use vacant lots to grow food, in anticipation of the dearth of fossil fuels and subsequent lack of food (20% of fossil fuel use is for transporting food). Follow the links on their site for media coverage of Earthworks, as well as more on urban gardening in other cities.

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