Sula thinks I’m obsessed with the past. I’m not. I just enjoy watching videos of yesterday’s streets. The buzz of the busy ones. The perfect shapes the light makes on the pristine ones. Mostly, I like to watch the way people moved back then – Time Square, Shibuya Crossing. All those bodies moving like suited starlings. Moving like rivers. There’s something soothing about the sterility and predictability. I once asked Sula to play city with me, cleared and carved a cross walk in the parking garden; instead, she suggested I elect tracking purple emperor butterflies for my weekly National Service. I mostly work with bryophytes and moss, they tell me how polluted the air is and whether our flighty friends will ever return to the region. Filling those spaces but in their wild and messy way.
Back in the day they called all of this the Poverty Draft, because folk hit harder – poor, Black, brown, citizens of nowhere – enlisted for the security of regular aid packets and medical insurance and promise of citizenry. But that was the in-between time, when we still had thousands of newly out of-work technologists. Now, everybody has to do their bit. ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and all that. Some folk set up invisible markets to trade all our data sets. Maybe their long gone yesterday people were those sharp beaked suited starlings. Sula’s upgrading the weather sensor network, which is why she didn’t laugh when the crow shat on her ambient hygrometer.