Eco-Fiction Experiment: Harrisonburg, A Space of Hope

This is a rough draft of an eco-fiction story I started back in December. It takes off from a work called New World: Spaces of Hope, which I encourage you to check out. It localizes the world that Harvey writes about in that story. I would love to co-author eco-fiction stuff with anyone out there that might be interested, just let me know.

Alot of this world is possible, and part of the idea of eco-fiction, at least for me, is to dream up very doable worlds that we can begin to create in place of this toxic babylon cancer thing that has got us all so well trapped. Let me know what you think. peace

A brief timeline of Harvey’s New World (a more thorough reading of Harvey’s work is encouraged):

2012: InterNational economic collapse

2012-2020: Dark Times. Military juntas combine with religious hierarchies to produce oppressive yet orderly societies that impose sustainable transportation schemes in an attempt to moderate the effects of climate change. Dissent is brutally crushed, and in supreme Orwellian style, a great unending war is begun between three superNational global powers. Freedom of movement is nearly obliterated, while resources become scarcer and scarcer.

~2020- A mass movement, The Mother’s of Those Yet To Be Born, sweeps the planet, linking oppressed and those yearning for freedom from the chains of hierarchy.

After 2020 – A new society begins to take form, from the networks organized by The Mother’s. Sovereignty rests somewhere between the individual and her Hearth, or home-unit/family, instead of in States and Nations.
Tight federations of Hearths make up Neigbourhoods, loose federations of Neigbourhoods make up Edilias, looser federations of Edilias make up Regionas, and loose, fluid, and functional federations of Regionas make up Nationas.

As a new society grow up around them, The Mother’s form nomadic collectives for disabling weapons of all sorts all over the world. They set the stage for new, quasi-nomadic communities and collectives, mutually sustaining every interconnected community.
Technology, while accepted is used as sparingly as possible, particularly considering the reduced availability of energy, the collapse of federal subsidiescoal and climate chaos ending

A rearranged value system places weight on reciprocity, eco-harmony and the development of Natural Capital.
Sexual connection networks take the place of online dating systems, and dating or coupling between people in any sort of exclusivity is a much rarer practice than in the old world.
Child raising is done collectively, in Pradashas that are situated within Hearths.

Nearly all food, building materials, clothing and necessities are produced locally, though unique goods will travel from Regiona to Regiona.

Every individual is encouraged to and economically supported in taking year-long sabbaticums every seven years, to nearly any Hearth in the world. Labor exchanges are often organized by different Regionas, and some Hearths are nomadic, making their living where their services are needed.
Time reckoning systems are quite varied, ranging from modified gregorian calendars, to thirteen-moon calendars, to the many time-systems originating in the Asian cultures, to the shared calendar of the Mother’s Movement.
Trade of services as well as goods and sexual exchanges take precedent over currency exchanges, though many Regionas and Edilias do establish their own local currency systems.

Canals for transporting good Regionally.

Changed aesthetics
neutralization of weapons
women as changers of worlds
Experiential learning key

Zinidine awoke breathing hard, the blood pounding in his head, visions of his nightmare flashing behind his eyes. The sky outside his window a soft grey, night still lingering as the sun cast its first few rays over the mountains to the east. It must have been the dinner conversation, he thought; towards the end of the evening one of the younglings who had spent the day with her nose buried in a book about the old world had asked Jake, an elder who had been raised before the end times, what happened to lanEdilia labor that had been spent in recycling and detoxifying the Valley landfills. In his dream, Zinidine had been buried alive beneath mountains of waste, suffocated beneath the weight of discarded desires.
What a strange way to live he thought, as he swung his feet off his bed, feeling the sourness in his muscles. And destructive, but he pushed that thought away, choosing, as most, to not dwell on the atrocities and darkness of the time before the Mother’s movement. Last night was his first night back in his home Hearth in over three months. In that time he had travelled with the Edilia’s rail collective: from Roanoke to the Finger lakes, the Shenandoh Rail Thumpers had repaired and worked maintenance on over 1200 miles of rail, laid over 200 miles of new track on top of reclaimed road beds prepared by the Potomac Train Spotters, and prepared an extension of the Shenandoah-Potomac connector system, an Edilia labor exchange that had been worked out a few seasons back.
Zinidine stepped quietly through the home, making sure not to wake the nurse mothers who he had heard in the middle of the night comforting the two toddlers sick with chicken pox. The women now lay next to eachother before the dying hearth-fire, the young ones between them, all looking very content and full of the best dreams. Zinidine made his way out the back door, the warm, late-dark-season morning greeting him, fog shrouding the garden.
As he began a series of sun salutations, he thought of all the spikes he had driven, the mountains he had walked through, the beautiful people he had eaten with, danced with, and slept with along the way north. The piles of snow near the finger lakes, snow like had not been seen in a life time. Up north, they say, the climate chaos was felt the strongest, and stability was still some generations off, but the snow had returned, and this made them happy.
Casting his eyes to the zenith, following the direction of his outstreched, warrior-pose-hands, he cast his memories to the Bay. Like everywhere else, the Chesapeake was recovering, slowly but surely. There remained toxic, dead places throughout, where the waterlife collectives spent moons on end planting detox flora and the detox microorgs, slowly bringing life back to the dead zones. In other places though, the Bay was flourishing, and Zinidine had never seen such life, the water teeming with fish, the air filled with the cry of birds.
At the last full moon the Rail Thumpers had gathered with other Chesapeake Regiona Rail, Road, Sea and Sky collectives to discuss transport within the Regionaite edifice largely covered by the art of the youth that ran amok in this raucous Edilia, yet its remnant aura/energy and its history speaking of horrors unimaginable, a past that was decaying, yet palpable. Zinidine, though, felt it was right to reappropriate the space, and not level it like many of the old, imposing retail-distribution centers that had blotted the landscape after the last capitalist attempt to squeeze profit from a sickened and tired population.
The gathering went well, reportbacks detailing a positive state of the rails, another 530 square miles of parking lots, highways and other impermeable paved surfaces down-cycled to gravel, and three new passenger Zeplins built. As always, there was heated debate on the next Regiona development project to be taken on. Although a consensus could’nt be reached, feasibility analysis for three proposed projects were planned, and a tele-gathering set for the mid-year New Moon. Zinidine, though his maximum of six seasons as a rail worker would be met by then, had been most excited by the proposed NorFolk-DelMarVa bay connector path that would feature a tidal powered sea-rail with coral habitat.
The sun now peaked brilliantly over the hills beyond Massanutten, and Zinidine settled from Cow, to Childspose, to Lotus, feeling his blood flow smoothly through his veins, the sun warming his face as he finished the morning Yoga he had come to perform religiously while on the rails, schooled expertly by Squirrell every day. He laughed a little as he thought of the lanky, goofy kid: a devout Lunnite from a Rastafari Neighbourhood near the Potomac-Shenandoah confluence Edilia, known as Harper’s Ferry. Squirrell was apt to stop in the middle of a hammer swing to mark the changing of the solar tone, spouting out the moonspell from his memory, his well thumbed thirteen-moon calendar obviously readily internalized by his thirsty mind.
As Zinidine settled into a deep meditation, he could hear the morning sounds of the Neigbourhood as Hearths slowly awoke. His Hearth, home to a newly organized Pradasha, was essentially six pre-World-War-Era houses on the East side of the Harrisonburg Edilia. They were connected by greenhouse tunnels, and surrounded a prolific court-garden, the source, like all healthy Hearths, of nearly three quarters of their own sustenance. The first sound he heard was the laughter of one of the younglings unaffected by the chicken pox as they carried out some mischief on a sleeping adult, even the groan of protest could be heard through the screen backdoor. Zinidine said a quick praise to the morning sun, bowing his head in thanks to its returning. He thought of the folks of the megacities who had gone months without seeing direct sunlight for the dark smog that had choked their cities in the days before the End, and said a prayer for their souls.
Not yet ready to go back inside, relishing the quiet of the morning, fog still holding onto the grass and birds beginning their songs, Zinidine began to run. A quick jog along Black’s Run, he thought, would help reground him to his home place, and help him think of all the things he must take care of in the few weeks before starting his second sabbaticum at the time of the New Growth moon.
The feel of the compacted, mossy grass of the street on his bare feet was wonderful, the thought of the black pavement that had been here until just after he came to Harrisonburg as a youth made him shutter. As the fog lifted further, he could see the other Hearths appearing on either side of the street, the sun now reflecting brightly off the solar panels on roofs, the smell of herb butter on toasting bread drifting out kitchen windows. Zinidine turned south onto the greenbelt near the rail station, picking up speed as he passed the growth boundry and entered the stretch of open forest and livestock pastures that seperated Harrisonburg from the other mini-Edilia’s.
As had been the case many times while he was away, Zinidine cracked a proud smile for his home. Massanutten/Central Shenandoh was considered by many as a caring, reciprocating, vibrant and healthy city, with a restrained human growth curve that far underpaced its eco curve, a long term sustainability plan that had been in effect and effective already for nearly three generations. Of course it was no Asheville, where the end times had been forseen a generation before they struck the rest of the world, but Harrisonburg/Massanutten was healthy, and its people happy, its rivers running clean after a generation of stream rehabilitation, its cultural world vibrant with the synthesis of Mesopotamian, Slavic, Communal Mennonite, Mountain and NewGrass traditions, amongst others.
As he ran through the learning village, Zinidine spotted the fruit grove he had helped plant, and the towering, tiered, tree-house garden he had helped design during his 3 seasons with the learning Neighborhood. Again a smile as the first time he’d used the sexual connector network, and the moon-filled night he’d spent with her in the top of the tree-house crossed his mind
As the greenbelt took him near Dayton, and crossed under the rail road, he slowed, breathing hard, stopping to look up through the trees. Once there had been a super highway in this space, roaring with the thunder of super-polluting personal automobiles, a deadly black river that carried the products of people’s sweat and tears across countless bio-regions inside of monstrous boxes, senslessly following profit, leaving pain, poverty and eco-destruction at every stop along the way. Now the highway was gone, its black rock turned to gravel for roads and to structure additive for the continued, but slower construction, construction of a better world.
Eventually Zinidine returned to his Hearth, the sun now fully over the mountains, only the teens still sleeping. On the porch of one house, Jake and Miguel, two elders weathered and crippled by the great waves of change they had seen, sat smoking a tobacco-herb pipe in the sunlight, rocking and speaking quietly, their heads nodding as he walked by. They laughed, and he knew they were saying something about him, though their code switching, mostly spanglish with russian exclamations thrown in, hid their words. He knew they liked him, though, and looked forward to smoking with them and discussing his plans for the near future, their guidance always having been a help to him through his youth.
Walking around back, passing under a foot bridge connecting two of the taller houses, he walked to a corner of the court-garden, stepping up to a rain-catcher with a good stock of water, and pumped enough for a shower into the head at the corner of the house. The shower stood beneath the cover of a willow, its branches and leaves like a veil between the shower and the houses. Grabbing a bar of chamomile mint soap (with the initials of one of his Pradasha siblings stamped into it) from the shelf attached to the house, he turned on the water, jumping at but quickly adjusting to its coldness. It was too early in the day for a warm shower, all the water that had been warmed by the sun the day before would be needed for cooking and cleaning. Besides, Zinidine thought, the cold water was refreshing, reminding him of just how alive he could feel in the morning.
As the water ran off him, it flowed down a channel to a french-drain gray water system, three reclaimed kitchen sinks half buried and planted with highly absorbatant flora acting as a filter, the water eventually making its way to the small pond at the center of the court-garden. Stripping his clothes, and washing them with the same soap, he hung them over a branch of the Willow. For another second he let the water wash over him, shutting it off and wrapping a towel fashioned from recycled plastic fibers around him.
Finally he rentered the house that, by right of its massive kitchen, was most often occupied by the meal gatherings. Younger Pradasha parents and an Elder, Kim, who had been one of Zinidine’s caretakers in his youth, stood around the central island, tossing whole grain griddle cakes on the stove, the smell of bacon wafting about, the remnants of a pig that had been slaughtered before the dark season set in, a ten year old boar who had left behind his healthy genes in a small litter of piglets that would provide meat for another cold-season after a few years.
Zinidine walked to his room, grabbing a dry change of clothes: pants of local hemp, dyed brilliantly by the expert tie-dyers of a Staunton Neighbourhood; an amalgamated shirt made from brilliant patches of reclaimed shirts, a style explored to amazing depth by Mother’s in Harrisonburg in the latter seasons of the dark times.
Sitting down around the breakfast table, Hearth members all about him, Zinidine felt at home again. He missed this, he knew, when out with the rail collective, though he also loved the freedom and the every-day newness of being on the rails. Now there were four younglings in the Hearth, the two twins, afflicted today by their chicken pox, who had only seen four warm seasons pass; a toddler who had been fresh at her wet-nurse’s breast when Zinidine had last left for the rails, and Nas, a quiet but active six-year-old fluent already in three of the five tongues spoken in this Hearth.
Nas had reminded Zinidine of himself from a very young age, and they had a particular affinity for one another. When Nas had grown strong enough to walk most of a day on his own, Zinidine had taken the boy on hikes, up around the wind mill camps along the ridges, shown him the wonder’s of their bio-region, been the first to show him a few of the edibles that could sustain a clever human for days in the hills. Nas had spent his first night in a tent with Zinidine on top of a ridge as members of the Wind Collective, a notoriously rowdy group of Neo-Baachinists, drank and sang the night away, the next day’s load of maintenance hikes a long night away.
The two had sat together laughing at the hiijinks of an old German DVD, Lola Rent, in the Library Hearth downtown, catching dirty looks from the librarians. Nas had picked up German quickly from Zinidine, and the two had shared days giggling at jokes that few others in the Neighbourhood could understand. Nas had been born and raised in this Hearth, his roots already steeped in the waters of the Shenandoah. His bio-parents had both been youngling friends of Zinidine’s, and the other Pradasha parents grew up in nearby neighbourhoods. Zinidine, however, had taken a much more circuitous route to this particular Hearth.
He had been born in a Pradasha along the southern Rhine, in a Neighbourhood of guild-carpenters synthesised with emigrant, Parisian philosophe Educators. By the time he had finished his nursing and toddler seasons, a healthy growth curve in the Rhine Regiona suggested that there would be difficulty in sustaining Zinidine in any local Hearth. It was decided by the Edilia council, with many tears and with the gurantee of a sabbaticum hearth exchange at any time, that a new home, in another Nationa would need to be found.
Only two seasons passed before a hearth in an Edilia of the Chesapeake Regiona, Atlantica/Appalchia Nationa replied to the transplant post, having recently suffered the loss of a youngling to run of whooping cough. It was expressed, in every bit of the three languages that Zinidine could already understand, that he was loved, and would be thought of as always having a root-branch drinking from the clear waters of the Rhine, but that he would be loved and needed equally by the strong people of the Shenandoah. And indeed, they told him, the Appalachian mountains were not unlike the rolling Alpen foothills of the southern Rhineland.
Zinidine could hardly remember the Zeplin trip from the Cadiz port to the District, though images stood out in his memory: the white buildings of Cadiz, lemon trees and overflowing gardens sprouting from rooftops making for a green and white checkerboard over the city, and the great transport hub of the District, where he first fell in love with the sleek, fast, multi-colored, electric trains. He was received warmly in his new Pradasha, already valued for his multi-lingual abilities, and soon loved for his bright-eyed smile.


2 thoughts on “Eco-Fiction Experiment: Harrisonburg, A Space of Hope

  1. Pingback: praise « The Small Axe

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