Living with the virus

health safety policy Angus Soutar Jennifer Wainman

No matter how much we long for it, we cannot bring back the freedoms of last year. We must adapt. Bombs are not falling, most of us remain well and ready for good work. Let’s help each other through this.” (in the middle of the Great Britain SARS-2 outbreak, summer 2020)

A statement on coronavirus

Current policy at The Northern School of Permaculture

3 August 2020

Permaculture design requires us to have a good working knowledge of the elements within the systems that we are responsible for. This approach applies to threats such as pests and diseases - we need to know enough about them to make our systems inhospitable to invaders. In the same way, we have to take care of each other when it comes to dealing with human pathogens. At five or six months into the outbreak, there are too many things that we still don't know about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This includes its effective transmission, its prevalence and its pathology. What we do know is that the disease comes with hidden dangers and therefore we must take all steps we can to prevent our friends and our families from contact with it, at least until we have more information about any lasting effects. As with Climate Change, risk assessment must come from the severity of the impact and not just its likelihood. With so many unknowns, the Precautionary Principle must apply.

As a result, we are not planning to hold any indoor face-to-face gatherings during the course of this year. On the other hand, we consider that outdoor meetings, when observing appropriate and essential precautions, are safe to go ahead.

Our courses will continue on-line as an interim measure, although this will be for a longer period than we had expected at the beginning of the outbreak. If you want to read the evidence for our current policy decision and look further at our risk assessments, you may read more about them here.

Masks by Georgia

My masks and me

Jennifer Wainman

I have an Immune Disorder so have been shielding at home for the last 4 months. Each time I leave the house, for my tri-weekly infusion, I don my mask before heading off for a 10 minute walk to the local hospital for treatment.

In March, my first venture out, having been at home only listening to the news, I was amazed by the lack of protective equipment worn by staff, visitors and maintenance professionals alike. No demarcation nor instructive notices, around the hospital grounds and buildings, to enable a novice insider like me to navigate this new world. Here I was donning my mask for protection, as instructed, only to find a major teaching hospital had less COVID protective boundaries than the M&S supermarket it had in its reception area. I felt somewhat separate from my fellow humans and a little bewildered as to whether I should be covering my face, as I thought I should, when those around paid no heed?

Masks by Georgia

Three weeks later things had changed slightly and I was greeted, at the entrance to the clinic, by a masked nurse who took my temperature and watched as I washed my hands. However, on entering the clinic masks disappeared unless you were being directly treated by your nurse. Now, four months on, on my trips to the hospital, the markings are visible and I walk amongst many staff and patients masked like me, socially distancing in our attire. However, there are still many who choose not to. Is this vanity, ignorance or immunological knowledge that I am not privy too?

Sitting underneath the mask, warm air circulates, my glasses steam and looking around I wonder why others are not also doing the simplest of things and wearing one themselves. Uncomfortable but necessary or so I thought. What made those make that decision? I console myself thinking we all wear masks of sorts whether they be visible made of cloth or paper, handmade or industrial or invisible to the naked eye but there none the less.

Jenny mask 2 Jenny mask 3
What mask ... ...are you wearing?

So what mask are you wearing?

  • Anxiety mask? – ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know its going to be really dreadful…’
  • Hopeful Mask? – breathable one that states, ‘I can manage’, ‘It’s going to be ok’
  • Freedom Mask? – Invisible, declaring, ‘I don’t care’, ‘I’m just getting on with my life’
  • Forgetful mask? – Wanting to forget ‘oops…forgot my mask’, ’forgot we couldn’t go there’, ‘give us a hug’ ‘lets get close’
  • Distractible mask? – playful avoidance – ‘do you like this one?’, choosing the design, creating their own, checking ‘do I look good in this?’

I do not plan to wear this ‘visible’ mask forever, but I will always choose to wear the breathable, hope filled mask. I have to manage my condition, as nothing and no-one can take my dodgy immune system away, however, I can take care and do what I can between treatments to safeguard myself and hope for the best. So My Mask and Me will continue for the foreseeable future. Will you and your mask do the same?

Here and There Inspiration