Food For Pandemic Thought #4 #cong20


Our lock down experiences have given us time to think.
These reflections can sustain us in the future..

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Key Takeaways:

  1. No matter what age we are we are capable of change.
  2. No man or women is an island, we are all on this planet together and need to act for each other.
  3. Pandemic data is a treasure map for the future.
  4. I value and love my family friends more.

About Geraldine O'Brien

 I qualified from DIT in 1977 with a Dip I.D. I worked in New York and London using my design skills Then returning to Ireland in the 1980s worked with Kilkenny Design for six years before starting my own practice Geraldine O’Brien Design (1986-2009). My experience at Kilkenny Design influenced my freelance work considerably both as a designer and educator.

I have always sought variety in my interior/exhibition work and welcome the challenge and the opportunity for personal development. Projects have ranged from rehousing of Magdalen women to purpose built accommodation, refurbishment of a five storey Fitzwilliam Square Georgian house and mews, sheltered accommodation, nursing homes, general residential interiors and exhibitions for the craft industry.

I was commissioned by The Crafts Council of Ireland to deliver a training programme to benefit emerging crafts people across the country and developed a format incorporating lectures, mentoring and provision of workshops between 1986-1998.

Since 2009 I have been in practice with my husband in our firm McCarthy O’Brien Architects and Designers. MCOB in Dublin. We have two adult children in professional careers.

What is fundamental to the way I work, whether designing an interior, an exhibition or a craft display, is listening to the client or craft maker, getting to know their style and their story so as to create a space and ambience that preserves their individuality and help them create something special.

Contacting Geraldine O'Brien:

 You can contact Geraldine by email or connect with her on LinkedIn

By Geraldine O’Brien.

Imagining Society 3.0

Food for pandemic thought.

I find it fascinating how Covid19 has pushed and shaped us to adapt or be left behind.
What does this mean for society 3.0. Could we draw some parallels?

Covid19 has shown us how quickly and adaptable a society can be to retrain, no matter what age people are in order to survive. Masks, zoom, working from home, plastic money, staying home for the greater good, etc. are now the accepted norms.

I never expected to live through a plague or pandemic in my lifetime.

At various times I’ve thought about what it might be like to live during a World War as my parents and grandparents did, even if their accounts were more removed as they lived in neutral Eire. As a child I remember vividly how petrified I was when the papers had headlines like “The World is Going to End in Two Days!”.

Many of my story books back then gave accounts from a children’s perspective of what it was like and how they coped. These accounts shaped my takeaways.

Headlines that provoked fearful thinking about death was in a funny way something I found helped me face uncomfortable things, arming me in many ways.

A self taught lesson from my childhood reflections was to be prepared as much as I could. Talking about dying is still a taboo subject in today’s society. If we were to begin to talk more openly about it, we might find it less fearful. Would it help us to value our lives?

Covid19 has challenged us in many ways including making us realise that anybody can become infected and die sometimes through no fault of their own. It is frightening but that’s not a reason to talk more openly about it. My reflections have made me value what’s around me. I can’t control when I will die, but it allows me to make the best of what I have, without hurting others.

But what can you do when the enemy is invisible? Trying to inform ourselves seems to be driving the increased book sales for plague books during the pandemic.

People just like me want to understand and be prepared.

I prepared what I could as I waited for the Government to direct us. Thankfully, after a few dodgy weeks the Government did what was needed. Yes, in parts the advice seemed nuts at times and we will have to wait to see how we will all recover and how best to reinvent ourselves. Could we be more aware of the self learning knowledge our Covid19 experiences give us?

This collective social knowledge is a valuable resource that can help us measure all of our experiences and record them for future research. Having this data will help us prepare and hopefully be a force for good. A treasure map of sorts for the future leading to a better world?

One current project shows a way we can use our knowledge beneficially.

DCU is archiving the Irish lived social experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is inspired by the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) COVID-19 Oral History project adapted for Irish requirements including GDPR compliance.

Anyone can leave an account of their Covid experience for the future, I can now leave an account for my first grandchild who was born during Covid. She will be able to access this archive and see accounts of what happened around the time she was born. Like living history from the real people who lived through a pandemic and are unlikely to be challanged by conspiracy theorists later.

Recently my sister texted me to sign a petition to stop the Sandymount Beach Road in Dublin being reconfigured to reduce traffic and install cycle lanes.

A number of County Councils have also taken over more road space for ‘temporary’ new cycle lanes, a brave decision on their part using the lockdown to test reactions. I like the idea of installing more cycling lanes and making it more people friendly.

I’ve had conversations with a couple of Sandymount friends, whose main reason to object to the cycle lanes is a buildup of traffic in the Village of Sandymount.

While I can see their point It seems to me that commuters will make changes themselves finding better faster routes and modes of travel once traffic systems are changed, aided in future by computers with real time data which will also prompt people into more radical changes. A move into the city has changed my thinking and methods of transport and the car is the last form of transport I consider when not too long ago it was the first.

Feeling rebel like I didn’t sign the cycle lane petition. I am viewing it as an indication that my behaviour is more open, changing and am embracing it. Wondering and hoping that others are up for change now that we have an enforced reflection time imposed on us?

Knowing I can change I am open to the possibility of experiences I never imagined.
If we don’t encourage people to engage, we stay static as a society. I now see this initiative as the start of the beginnings of better towns and cities for the future?

Yes, I see how unfairly Covid has dealt it’s bitter cards. The daily crushingly cruel numbers that are still rising and falling and many people suffering long term health effects. I am feeling grateful that my family and friends are well. A good friend lost her lovely dad before his time, her mum is coping well and is an inspiration to me and others.

Keeping your friends and family close in new ways. Thinking of them, reflecting how much you value and care about them and keeping in touch virtually.

Has Covid made us gentler humans, helped us to begin to realise less is more?

Maybe the future is learning to expect the unexpected, finding out that we can live through uncertain times. Revisiting and re-evaluating will help society improve as more data becomes available allowing for little changes to be made that can make lives better. I am hopeful that if I can change I am not alone in my thinking?
We are a species that do better in herds. Isolation and being cooped up does not allow us to act in everybody’s best interest.

Acceptance that we still can evolve even though it’s hard for us to imagine that as we age. Knowing we recently did gives us hope that we can mould our new experiences in the future to suit, without it being totally about ourselves. Perhaps we can bend society to accept that doing something for the greater good is superior than doing everything just for ourselves.

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