Well, what a wild ride these last few weeks have been! I personally never thought we’d see knife fights over toilet paper in our country and yet here we are.
I hope you’re all keeping safe and well. It’s a tough time all round – people falling ill – sometimes fatally, others being stood down from their jobs, disruption to the supply chain which influences the availability and price of goods, small business – which normally operates on the knife edge anyway – feeling the pain like never before and the strain for individuals caused by increasing levels of isolation.
I know I’ve gone full on Great Depression in our household, channelling my grandmother and telling my husband things like: “No, don’t throw out those bones! I’ll use them to make a stock for dinner tomorrow!” or “Don’t throw out the water from boiling the pasta or potatoes! I’ll make fresh bread tomorrow and it makes the bread softer and rise better.”
I’ve also planted a vegetable garden, created a series of play stations in the backyard for our two year old, reorganised my pantry and alphabetised my spice rack. It’s only a matter of time before I start polishing the undersides of furniture and knitting a coat for the dog while humming the theme song from Little House on the Prairie.
While I’ve been discovering my inner Mrs Beeton, we’ve had the local council elections unfold and a new mayor declared. We now have a mayor that nearly 60% of the city voted against so he’s got a lot of work to do to rise in our collective opinions.
If something good can come out of this pandemic, I hope it will be the return of manufacturing to our shores. It was never sustainable to have one country manufacturing goods for the entire world. In times of plenty people saw opportunities for cheaper production and hence greater sales to people who valued cheaper products over local jobs. I can’t criticise any party over that – when people have a limited income they want to make their dollar stretch as far as possible and people who manufacture goods want to have as many sales as possible and cheaper goods are more in demand.
We are no longer in times of plenty – increasing unemployment, difficulty importing or exporting goods and increased protocols affecting the operation of all businesses means pretty much everything we purchase will only get more expensive. As the federal government rushes to get a stimulus package through and print more money, we will see inflation rise and our purchasing power diminish even further. There are riots at the moment in Europe as the price of food increases… have you tried to buy celery lately?
Make no mistake – we are in for a tough road ahead.
But what can we do as individuals? We can do plenty.
Ever flown on an airplane? They always advise you that in the event those oxygen masks drop from the ceiling you need to put yours on before you help others. That’s our starting point.
Get yourself as prepared for this as you can be.
In general – maximise your income and minimise your spending. If you have a secure job or income source – keep it. If you don’t have a secure job or income source, try to find one or ensure that you have whatever government benefits are available at the moment. Ensure that you and your household are living within your means. Since the libraries are closed, there are some great books and advice available for free on the internet about budgeting and managing your finances. There are some amazing organisations in Logan that specialise in providing discount groceries to families – check out Lighthouse, Twin Rivers Food Co-op, The Tribe of Judah and your local neighbourhood centre.
In the last two World Wars, regular citizens were encouraged to grow “Victory Gardens”, small plots of fruits and vegetables in their yards or allotments that supplemented their household food consumption but were also vital in maintaining physical and mental health.
When we worry about things outside our control it is debilitating – but when we focus on things we can control – like our own backyards, it can lend a sense of order in the world and give us something productive to focus on.
Start with you and your household. Once you feel confident that you have done what you can – look to your street, your neighbourhood and your community.
There will be people around you doing things tougher than you are. We have a better chance of getting through this safely if we all work together.
There are likely to be some of your neighbours who may need help you could provide and other neighbours who have skills you don’t. One of my neighbours is a keen gardener and another loves to make and repair clothing – since I am unlikely to splurge on new clothes any time soon I’ll be happy to pay her to increase the life of my wardrobe.
Looking further afield – support Logan businesses wherever you can. Local business hires local people who can spend their money in our community. If you want to buy something and you can’t find a supplier from Logan, try to find one from Queensland and failing that from Australia.
It’s times like these that reveal the strengths and weaknesses of people. I know Logan is strong and full of inspiring people. This will pass – let’s come out stronger than before and make our future brighter.