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High Street 2099
In this, the last part of four stories, we follow one woman in High Wycombe in the year 2099. Previously we saw a snapshot of events for her children (Jack and Jill) and for her neighbour (John). Jack & Jill discovered the joys of slow-flying in an airship, Jill wrote an essay for a competition and John rediscovered his community. Today we wrap up with a day shopping in High Wycombe’s new High Street. What will we see? Let’s take the tram and find out.
Jenny stepped off the tram platform and front of the Council offices. The street was lined with trees in all directions and they gave ample shade from the heat of the sun. At the side of the street ran a narrow stream crossed by numerous footbridges. The air was fragrant with the flowers planted on the stream’s banks. Through the tree cover Jenny glimpsed the Council logo – Swans embracing a Red Kite.
The street bustled with busy shoppers. Slumped at the foot of one of the trees was a scruffy-looking gentleman in need of a shave. He appeared to be asleep so Jenny rush by in order to avoid any uncomfortable confrontations. Quickly she joined the throng of fellow Wycomb-ites on their way to the shops, cafes, clubs, bars and art galleries. She passed by the packed street cafes and heard a dozen languages in quick succession. Swans embracing a Red Kite. Funny. Clever too. It was intended to reflect the traditional embracing the modern, the new, the foreign. One hundred years ago there were no Red Kites flying overhead. Now they all live here – refugees in a changing world. Jenny rushed on.
She reached the site of the new town museum. Jenny looked with pride at the beautiful new building with its graceful arches and intersections. Neo-gothic was very fashionable and Jenny hoped her kids liked it. He private pleasure at the new building was in no small part down to the fact that her husband and her had bought shares in it. Indeed, it was how most of the infrastructure around here was built.
Up on the roof she spotted a couple of women on ropes with masks pressed to their faces. They gently swayed to and fro but it wasn’t for fun. They were working. It seemed they were spraying something on the roof. She glimpsed back down to street level and saw the van emblazoned with the SolaSave logo. They were a well know local family business with a long history. She guessed the girls were spraying on the solar panels. It was not a job she would have liked. She preferred her work-share with her husband. He worked three days and she worked the other two down at the factory. It was how they met after graduation from Engineering school.
Jenny walked on past the repair centre. Through the glass windows she could see rows of benches stacked high with tools as local artisans carefully tinkered at their tasks. Most appeared to be doing clever things with electronic devices. Her family often used the repair centre, it seemed like there was nothing they couldn’t fix. And if you didn’t like your old stuff they would let you trade it for something slightly different. The centre even had its own Cafe out on the street as the many customers waited for their items to be returned in working order.
Jenny entered Local Roots cafe. She wasn’t here for the coffee but wanted to load one of their books onto her reader pad. As she scanned through the items she glanced over at the faded pictures on the wall. Such history! This was one of a chain of such cafes and delicatessens dotted around the town and South Bucks area. Another old and successful local enterprise. Of course she could have downloaded all their books from the web site but, as she was passing…. She gave into temptation and had a coffee and a chat with the lady at the counter. Apparently they were planning to branch out into Repair Cafes soon.
On her way out Jenny glanced at the shop’s energy meter. It showed how much the building imported and exported. Looked good so far. The sunshine was helping. As she went outside Jenny smelt a slight hint of wood smoke. The smoke scrubbers at the West Wycombe biomass station must be on the blink she thought. Again.
She stopped briefly at one of the market stalls run by a local community group. She signed their petition to save the Bees before moving rapidly on to the Hamm Market. This was the retail-outlet side of a farm that sprawled along the Chiltern hillsides. She would buy most of her provisions here. She knew where everything was. Each orange, slice of cheese and loaf of bread were lovingly hand-chosen and scanned in with her wallet-phone. The items would be delivered to home that evening. She could have done it online from any one of the cafes on the High Street but she liked to choose the best produce. It would be her husband’s turn in a couple of days and she knew he would make a great pretence of hand-picking everything despite spending his time in Local Roots.
Next-up: REAL retail therapy. Jenny tried some shoes and a new sun hat. She played with some gadgets and rifled through the used tools, but nothing took her fancy. It was all so pricey. The money as better off in the local community bank. Christmas was coming and savings were required.
Jenny headed back to the tram stop to get a ride home. Tonight it was her turn to cook. She had enough food for her neighbour too. Her wallet-phone briefly murmured and Jenny asked “What?” The message read: “Mum, it’s Jill. I won, I won! The competition! I’m getting a ride on the airship again!” Jenny was delighted. She basked in the warm glow of achievement before noting that the people around her were also smiling and passing their congratulations. She gracefully thanked them before everyone bustled onto the arriving tram. It was so nice that people were like that here. So many languages. So many smiles.
As Jenny sat down she flipped open her walletphone one more time. Just one last thing to do before home. With a deft flick of her stylus she ordered a chocolate cake for immediate delivery. Afterall, they had something to celebrate.
To respond to this blog go to http://www.post-carbon-living.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/08/high-street-2099/ or drop us a line on Twitter (twitter.com/TTWycombe) or Facebook (facebook.com/TTWycombe) or via our web site at www.transition-wycombe.org.uk. You can hear Mark talk about the future of High Wycombe as part of his talk to the High Wycombe Society on the 6th July at the Guildhall. You can next meet Transition Town High Wycombe at the Hamilton School Fete on Saturday 16th June. We look forward to meeting you.
In this section
- Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth
- The 5 Rules of Washing Up
- There is no such thing as an “Eco-Home”
- Genetic Modification in our food: the gloves come off
- They don’t grow coffee in Devon
- Super-low-carbon homes. Was It Worth It? Part Two
- Super-low-carbon-homes case study: is it worth it?
- Big Box/Little Box & the future of High Wycombe?
- This week an Energy Shambles. Next week: BIG Energy Saving Week
- $4/gallon Gas & other stories