walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Urban Shepherds

I've been feeling like R.'s and my visualization of land use in the next years/decades is relatively solid. However, I've also had a nagging feeling that I'm missing something really important. Reading _Arrival City_ has clarified that absence somewhat.

I think we all understand the the post-war era of jobs-for-life-with-pension-and-so-forth is not only gone, but that no plausible public policy strategy is going to bring it back. I think we all have a sense, as well, of globalization (in terms of what kinds of employment are exportable and which ones are less exportable and which ones can't be exported period full stop end). I think we even have a sense that health care jobs will continue to expand as the very aged and/or very ill population grows, altho that turns out to be a tremendously complex calculation to try to make in detail, since we might be able to guesstimate the number of people of any given age in any given year, what we can't predict is how long the End of Life Really Incapacitated Phase will last, and there are some hints that might be occurring later in the life span and be more compressed, which would tend to put the problem of enough-home-health-aides-and-skilled-nursing-facilities a bit further into the future and make it less bad overall (if everyone is desperately in need for round the clock assistance for only 18 months versus 6 years, it makes a big difference -- especially if that happens at age 87 rather than 79. To pull arbitrary numbers out of the air).

But knowing that young people today thinking about their adult working lives (a) will change jobs frequently and perhaps expect to work more than one at a time for much of their working lives, (b) in a relatively low paying job (because there are hard limits on how much productivity can be leveraged in a lot of the job categories that cannot be exported), (c) possibly at least peripherally connected to caring for other people, does not add up to even an approximate vision of what the economy/business environment/job market of the future looks like.

I already posted a little update on urban farming. Here are a couple Guardian pieces about urban sheep and their caretakers. You'll notice that in the 2008 article, it was a park and volunteers, but in the 2010 article, it is government owned land (and not just parks, either) and someone getting paid (altho volunteers are still an important part of making it work). The 2009 article is primarily about the volunteers, one of whom is quoted as hoping to get some wool out of the deal, which she did.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jul/21/localgovernment.conservation
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1226249/Life-urban-shepherd-Why-volunteers-flocking-tend-sheep.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/21/sam-baldock-urban-shepherd-ethical

This has even more about the volunteer process, and points out that some participants are treating it as an educational opportunity.

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article6972481.ece

It also includes a solid argument for incorporating "farming" into cities:

"“I love getting out with the sheep,” Cosgrove says, looking down at Brighton below. “But I couldn’t live in the country. There’s not enough to do.”"

Do I foresee a future in which lawns are mowed by sheep instead of lawmowers? Well, I mostly foresee smaller lawns. But I also foresee a world in which people who aren't being paid so much they'll sacrifice anything for the money spend a good chunk of their time and energy doing things that they find intrinsically rewarding, as long as the activities pay for themselves plus enough extra. And I think I foresee a lot of entertaining confrontations with regulations designed for the much heavier-weight economic activity of our shared past.

The Brighton sheep program is also an interesting example of other crowdsource technologies (in this case, mobile phones, mostly) can work in the physical world and not just the virtual world.
Tags: our future economy today
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