Admittedly, all this introspection has only enforced some of my former thoughts. For one, these are exciting times. Truly. Beyond this pandemic, being alive in the 21st century is a unique and exciting time.
I can only speak for myself, hailing from a place of relative privilege. I am healthy, I haven’t been evicted, and I am more or less financially stable. And yet, my indignation burns quietly.
As governments scramble to keep our GDP-driven world afloat, I am led to wonder whether these solutions are novel or merely mechanisms to maintain the status quo.
We have islands of knowledge separated by oceans of nonsense. From misinformed media to the segregation of academic disciplines, a mainstream unifying synthesis has yet to emerge.
I would like to see global economics that are not based on infinite growth and exploitation of people and planet, that are fueled by sustainable energy, and that encourage new models in education.
The latter two are things I have actively worked on. I am a sophomore at the University of Minnesota studying Sustainable Systems Management, with double minors in Food Systems and Management. I chose to study these topics because I want to be equipped when traditional supply chains falter.
Our globalized world has bred extensive supply chains that are susceptible to shocks, whether it be a tsunami-inspired paint shortage or a pandemic. The toll of soil and habitat degradation coupled with climate change is a major concern of mine. Equally important is comprehension of the massive amounts of fossil fuels that are required for modern agriculture and its transports. So, I am working with others to sustainably cultivate food, mainly in the form of static hydroponics.
My research needs are simple: a bucket of standing water, an inert medium that is not soil, and carrot seeds. A hydroponic system requires no electricity to pump water 24/7, and fits into a 2’x2’ foot space — perfect for urban areas.
Alternative ways of being and thriving (not just surviving), are an important defense against the fragility caused by the dominant culture of exploitation.
How many of us know how to grow carrots? I am not suggesting everyone be a farmer, but I would like to see education cultivate practical life skills.
I want a world in which people can sustain themselves outside of task completion — where the standard of living is not merely about monetization. The separation of the human from the biophysical is unnatural.
It was not until late high school that I was introduced to ecology. We are organisms attached to the earth. Trying to convey this to peers, I wrote a book called “Snapcrash: An Indispensable Lens to Reality,” synthesizing human behavior, energy, economics, and the environment. I plan to do more.
It is hard to imagine radical change in the midst of a pandemic, yet the implications of COVID-19 will likely shape policy and attitudes going forward, just as the Great Depression of the 1930s shaped several generations.
My goal is to seek alternative lifestyles to the ones we have been given, and to be prepared for disruptions. I hope others will envision this new future with me.
Priscilla Trinh (she/hers) is an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. Her mission is to bridge food systems, ecology, and communications in pursuit of a sustainable future.
This is part of an ongoing #MWPQuaranzine series by Minnesota Women’s Press that features voices of women who have a vision for how to rebuild a more sustainable, equitable society by working collectively to the future beyond this pandemic. Add your voice to the Comments field below if you want to share your perspective.