The city seems to be getting quieter and quieter. On our walk to school this morning we only saw a few cars and most of these belonged to police or other emergency services. The mist which hung over the city today made it damp and miserable and the journey seemed to take much longer than normal.
KathyFL asked me yesterday if we had been having any power cuts or other utility disruptions. I’ve been surprised that there have been no power outages – although we have had warnings. The water supply has never been cut but we have been warned to boil any water for drinking. Our plans for using on-line learning would certainly be disrupted if we were to lose power.
Malik came to today’s circle meeting and held the kids spellbound for nearly two hours. He showed how they could use their Bebo/Facebook spaces to set up links to other learning sites available in the UK. The Government have brought a special group together to pull together resources on a UK basis and although Scotland has always done its own thing as far as qualifications and courses have gone it seems sensible to tap into what’s most easily available. Anyway it’s not so much the resources which are going to prove the problem it’s going to be helping kids to use them in a useful and productive way. One of the points, which emerged at yesterday’s meeting, had been the need to look for courses that would be more utilitarian than we might have been looking for just a few weeks ago. The old imperative that kids did courses to gain entry to university or college has disappeared – it’s much more about what do we need to get by and "how do I make contribution to society?"
But all that’s still way down the line as our focus is still on how we get through the current crisis. With only a 50% infection rate there are still many people who have yet to be exposed to the infection – especially as so many are still locked in their own homes. It appears that many loaded up with provisions in the first few days and haven’t ventured out since. That certainly placed a real burden on shops but it explains why so few people have been turning up at work.
We now have 105 kids and 15 adults at our newly named Sunlight Community Hub – the kids spent most of today designing leaflets to be posted around local homes explaining the services we can offer and looking for additional support. The local health centre has taken over a university hostel and is still tending for those who call in with symptoms. The Penicuik Barracks have been supplemented with a number of other emergency hospitals who take the worst cases – although most of the severe cases never make it out of their homes due to lack of transport. The local authority is concentrating on managing the death toll and I heard yesterday that there are mass graves sites on the outskirt of the city.
Malik has agreed to join our team and will be helping us to set up our on-line learning systems by keeping the equipment going and providing advice. One of the key things which is definitely happening is that most of kids formal learning is happening out of school – our focus when they’re here is on lifting their spirits and on social contact and mutual support. It seems such a powerful way of structuring our time. The one thing which has taken off is our reading club where we all spend an hour each afternoon reading a book of our own choice. Each family spends some time discussing a couple of the books. We are using the school library but kids and adults are also bringing in their own books. I think one of the reasons that this is so successful is that TV, newspapers and the internet are all submerged in the crisis – at least for an hour and half each day we can escape. I’m reading “Gone with The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, which I last read as a fourteen year old – complete escapism! “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn!!”