Jill returned home from her trip in the airship. It is November 2099. She sits up on the window sill to stare at the trees and gracefully-arcing wind turbines. She daydreams of winning that trip to Totnes – the cultural capital of Britain. All she has to do is write a really good essay on what life was like just 90 years before. She shudders… She had done the research and spent hours on the Bucks Free Press archive site. But it hadn’t been easy. She had not much liked what she had found. How to turn it into the needed essay? Maybe a letter? A letter to her own long-gone relatives? So she flicked open her EWallet-Phone and whispered the words “open file” and this is what she wrote: “Dear 2012. I have been looking through the Letters & Blogs from the archives of our local Newspaper – the Bucks Free Press – to try and find out about 2012. It wasn’t easy. The past is a foreign country and I don’t think I speak the language. Did you live in a universe with different laws of physics or something? You enjoyed an abundance of natural resources most of which you sent up in smoke. Errr… Why?! Your lives were infinitely faster and you travelled vast distances just to go to work or on a holiday. Your weather was a lot more stable and a lot cooler than ours. In total: YOU mystify me. You lived as if there was no tomorrow. Well, hello, I am tomorrow.

In the world of tomorrow nobody talks about economic growth or a “debt-crisis” in the way that you did, but we feel wealthy beyond your imagination. “Business-as-usual” was your creed whilst “living-the-good-life” is ours. You imagine a nonsense future from sci-fi movies whilst we live the reality. We still have technology but it is the technology you already had – even if you overlooked it. Ours is not a future of hover-boards or holidays on the moon. Fusion power is still a hundred years away (we are promised) so we live with the abundant bounty of that other fusion-reactor – the sun. It all works. But you already knew that didn’t you? Surely.

What surprised me was how you all bickered so much about the things that seem so self-evident today. What was all the fuss was about? Why so angry? In your time I see a lot of denial, a lot of problem avoidance, a lot of short termism. So much in-fighting. You seemed equally at ease attacking friends as you did your enemies. You cling to old certainties. Politicians put forward political solutions, those who saw only a technological problem offered only technology as a solution, those who believed in the church of economics offered graphs and discount rates whilst the scientists could only give us the world in a test tube. Like a group of blind men feeling the various limbs of an elephant – you were all right, yet none of you could quite put your arms around it. Seems funny now.

Life could have been worse for us 90 years later - we have to thank those pioneers who offered a vision of a culturally-slower, low-energy, relocalised High Wycombe for the more positive outcomes. For them it was an uphill struggle. Visionaries are never appreciated in their own time. Nothing the critics said or did stopped the future from happening. It happened anyway in a fashion of its own choosing. We muddled through thanks to those who planned ahead and were not afraid to experiment.

I sit today in the City made by those planners, those visionaries, those pioneers. One-quarter of a million people in Greater High Wycombe - the City that thinks it’s a Village. It is clean. The past was dirty. We enjoy our health. Did you? We have everything we need and most of it is from within twenty miles. It took us a long time to figure out the difference between what we wanted and what we needed.

So, what were you doing 2012? Did you have to discount us so much? Why asleep at the wheel? Why the sleep of reason? Did you think we would be so rich that we didn’t matter and could take care of ourselves? Why did you assume the next 90 years would be a continuation of the last? Why so much argument, so much disagreement, so little debate? Nobody listened. No understanding. Everybody talked. There was no peace. Blah, blah, blah. It actually upsets me. It was a miracle YOUR tomorrow happened. But it did.

So, to my own long-departed forefathers I say this: as much as we appreciated your attempts at green-lifestyles this was not everything we needed from you. What we needed was dialogue, forward-thinking and open minds. We needed acceptance of overwhelming realities and we needed positive actions. What was necessary was more than just soft-headed appeals to save the planet. We needed more than just politics, science, economics and technology. We needed imagination and leadership, we needed examples and we needed a community. The community was the solution and enough people found that better way to make a difference to my life. I would like to be more proud of my forefathers’ contribution but they wrote off every opportunity as a problem and told everyone that it could “not be done”. But it was done. And it had to be done. We had no options. You took those from us.

But, do you know what? I am happy. We are content. We are flourishing on a fraction of what you had. That is our genius and your failing. It is possible. It is desirable. I wouldn’t swap my life in 2099 for your world of 2012. Not for a second.

We found the better way and made it work because you did not.”

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