We are living in strange times. To be honest, I, along (I should imagine) with many other people, feel unsettled – perhaps unheimlich? Unheimlich literally translates from the German as uncanny, and was a term used by Freud to describe the psychological experience of something being strangely familiar. Familiar? Yes, familiar! At this point I’m beginning to think that I’ve read too many science fiction books, and watched too many science fiction films. I’m starting to imagine a scenario whereby a previously unknown virus breaks out and within a short period of time is causing fear, panic and economic collapse; a situation that so rapidly deteriorates that the pubic demand firm and decisive action from their governments. These governments first respond with calls for the public to stay at home and stay calm, but when food shortages cause riots to break out martial law is declared, troops appear on the streets and those deemed ‘trouble makers’ are shot on site. An imagined scenario of course. It could never really happen – could it?
The trouble is that all of a sudden I’ve got time on my hands. Time to think. Time to imagine. A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about how busy my diary was. Now, within a matter of days, my diary is pretty much clear for the foreseeable future. Just about all meetings and events have been cancelled. So, if I’m not going to let my imagination have free reign to fantasize and construct all types of apocalyptical futures I need to use my time constructively. I need a plan. I can feel that dormant careers adviser lurking within telling me that I need an action plan. And he’s probably right. So, in the short term at least, I have three projects to occupy my time.
First, 5G. Bridport Town Council’s Environment and Social Wellbeing Committee has received two public expressions of concern regarding the potential roll-out of 5G technology in recent months. My usual, rather glib response when the issue of 5G is raised is to comment that I would be grateful for a regular 3G service. But this is obviously an issue that many people are concerned about, it’s also an issue that I really don’t understand. I don’t fully understand what the technology is, what it will be used for, why we need it, and what the concerns are. So that’s my first piece of research.
Second, planning. I sit on both the Area Planning Committee of Dorset Council and my Town Council’s Planning Committee, and it’s my biggest frustration. I have a pretty good idea of what we should be doing, what we should be approving or rejecting, what we should be requiring in all new developments, but I feel constrained by our out-dated local plan and the National Planning Policy Framework – both of which are heavily on the side of developers, and neither of which fully acknowledge our climate emergency. Not only do I need to understand both of these documents in more detail than I currently do, I need to understand where they could be interpreted in ways that better reflect our climate emergency.
Third, ICT. For some reason that I have not yet worked out I have managed to become a member of a team of ICT mentors for my fellow Dorset Councillors. My ICT skills are not bad, but they are no where near developed enough for me to feel comfortable in this role. There is a wide range of applications that I have never used, and of those that I have used I am uncertain of many of their capabilities. So I need to view the many online instruction videos that are available, and try out their full range of uses. These then form the projects of my ‘keeping sane in a crisis’ action plan. I will keep you informed of progress.