Poppy's Dream

Written by Community Solutions fellow wimbi

“Poppy’s Dream,” as narrated on the morning of July 24th 2016

Edited for written presentation by his daughter

I dreamt I went to a foreign country with my grandchild, who was teaching there, and everything I saw around me had a band of color on it. So I asked the young foreign person who was escorting us: 

“What is the color band?”  

She said: “You don’t have those?” 

“If I do, I never noticed.  What *is* the color band?” 

“That is the “Level of Requirement” for something really needed. So if some silly little object is not really needed, it’s got a color band close to black.  If it is needed - and we are talking about really needed, as in survival-needed – it’s banded with a lighter color, to easily identify it in the case of a catastrophe.  But if it’s banded black, then there’s no real need for it, and there’s no concern about what happens to it.”  

And I said:  “Oh, well, that’s very clever!”  And just from curiosity I went around look looking for these color bands.  I was surprised to note that many that were brightest had some sort of association with electricity.  I asked why that would be, and my guide said:

“If you have no electricity, you are desperate for just a little bit of it. In a real catastrophe, without electricity, you need even a small electrical source in order to communicate with other survivors.” 

I asked: “So in a catastrophe, what is your implementation plan for light-banded technology like electricity-producing items?” 

“Our people are trained to use primitive sources of electricity.  For example, high-tech solar photovoltaic panels works just fine to produce electricity, but the very primitive old Stirling engines of the last Century can turn even little sticks of wood into heat, and hence turn your woodfire into a source of electricity.”   

“That’s excellent thinking.  I don’t know how to make a photovoltaic cell, because it’s not on the level of village technology, but I do know how to make a very good steam engine, better than James Watt did -   or, in fact, a Stirling engine that will heat into electricity. Actually, I used to write lots of papers on free-piston Stirling engines that were made of nothing but ordinary things you could find in the trash pile.” 

And she said: “Yes; we can do that too!”

“So in that case, a trash pile should be marked with a light-colored band?” 

She laughed and pointed.  “There’s one, look at it.”

Sure enough, the trash pile was banded with a light color.

She explained: “We have done a lot of research about the situation, and for us, what you call a “trash pile” is, in fact, a treasure.” 

I said: “My gracious, that’s something I believe, but I didn’t think anyone else did.”

“Oh, they will when they think about it. Actually, an American trash pile is as good as gold; it has everything under the sun in it.  You can get a fridge, or a fully-functioning gen set, or any manner of useful things.” 

“Well that’s true, but in America people don’t realize that.  They have no concern for a trash pile.  People just throw away anything at all without thinking about it.  So overall, this banding is an excellent thing.  Tell me: how do you actually do this here; who decides how to color-band items?”  

“Every community has a Council of Experts who write down all the things they could do with each thing and decide on colors.” 

And I said, just out of the blue because I thought of it: “How do you band-color a cooking pot?”  

She laughed and said:  “Oh, a cooking pot.  There are so many cooking pots that we put them somewhere in the middle of the color-banding, not because they’re not extremely valuable, but because they’re so many being made.  In other words: if today a catastrophe happens, and I need cooking pots, I think I could say that everyone in our country has a cooking pot.” 

“Hmm.  I suppose you could said the same thing for the American automobile.  Outside every American house, there’s a car, and when they get old, people just get a new one.” 

“Here there would be a car remodeling place; cars would not be a throw-away item.  Here, we can easily last decades without any new manufacture, just remodeling, recycling and - very important - restructuring old items scientifically.” 

“Well that’s all wonderful. What I’m realizing is that what you people are doing now is what we should be doing in the near future.  And besides that, I said, I am no judge for any of this. I have a limited experience.

She said “Yes, it’s perfectly clear that you do!” 

I laughed, and suggested: “How about this idea: your little village in your country get together with some equivalent little village in America, and we match communities into an ‘adopted towns’ scheme.”

She got pretty enthusiastic about this and said: “Yes, that would work for us!  And partnering communities can make joint decisions on whether a cooking pot is a grey or a green or a black band.  And this way we can all hope not only to become friends and share experiences, but to become the future.”

I nodded and added:  “It would be super-great if my grandchild came back from your country with some sort of long-living interaction between the first two villages.”

She agreed: “Absolutely!  How exactly should we work together to do this?” 

And I said:  “Over to you.”