Thursday, 13 May 2010

the lewes bubble

It struck me the other day that not a single one of my friends has a proper job. That is, a 9-5, Monday to Friday job. So are they all dossers? Far from it; on analysis they work quite intently at their profession, or should I say professions. It seems that most people I know do a range of jobs, mostly part time, mostly self-employed, some paid, some unpaid, some as a hobby, some as part of a training. Take one friend, for instance. She’s not well off but manages to rent a room in Lewes. She works with disabled children three days a week, and as a yoga teacher some evenings. As an accomplished artist, she does occasional community art projects, paid or unpaid. The rest of the time she grows food, spends time supporting friends and experiencing life to the full. Take another friend. He occasionally works for the Royal Shakespeare Company as a musician; he composes library music when the opportunity comes up and the rest of the time he works for community projects in Lewes for free and sunbathes. Lewes is full of people like that.

I know, Lewes is a bubble, but I’ve noticed that what happens here tends to be what the national trend will be. People are becoming ever-so-slightly uncomfortable with mass consumerism, and this feeling seems to have intensified since the banking and politicians’ expenses fiascos. Class isn’t a factor: the class system is far less defined these days in terms of prosperity. Perhaps conscience is the motivating factor these days. Either way, consumerism is being dismantled, invisibly: a revolution that’s not being televised.

I find the trend towards self-employment exciting. By embedding themselves in the community with their work, such people (including me) are more self-determined and therefore more resilient. Recently, I’ve been bartering with friends who are manually skilled – a polytunnel erection for a cord of wood; a beehive for help with marketing. This is a serious game – one that’s incredibly fun, it’s bucking the money system, and it’s so much more real than this plastic world we’ve been living in for most of the 20th century.

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