Note: This is the second in a series of short stories highlighting what life will be like being a member of Colony Earth using Permacredits. Ideas for future shorts are welcome.
Sangeeta looked over at the portrait photo hanging on the kitchen wall. All was quiet. Steam rose from the curry she was cooking. She thought of her husband, Sunjib, who had been dead for four years now.
She grew up in Bangalore, the third daughter of a Sudras (the unskilled caste) family, and Sunjib acquired Sangeeta for marriage when she was just fourteen. He too was of the Sudras caste and a lowly farmer himself, which meant Sangeeta's hopes of a rich life were practically inexistent. She would never have a proper income, let alone any medical care for her and her two children, especially after Sunjib took his own life.
Sangeeta tossed more onions into a large pot as it simmered on the industrial stove. Like many farmers in India who were promised bountiful crops and greater yields by corporations like Monsanto, Sunjib had watched as his years of back-breaking work were destroyed by a genetically mofied agricultural apocalypse. Seed prices soared and his meager life savings disappeared in failed harvests. It was too much for him. He had no way to support his family, let alone pay rent for his land, so he sought a new incarnation. He left his wife and kids to fend for themselves, when they had virtually no way of doing so.
Sangeeta chopped up ginger as she thought of the times she had taken her two children scavenging through the large garbage dumps outside Bangalore, shortly after Sunjib's suicide. They were kicked out of their home and forced to seek refuge alongside countless other widows and orphans in the slums that mushroomed near the dumps. With one child strapped to her chest and the other rummaging beside her, she somehow managed to keep them fed.
A child's laughter outside the kitchen window caught Sangeeta's attention as she wiped a tear from her cheek. She added the ginger to the large simmering pot. How things had changed since those dark days!
Sangeeta now lived in a community that she helped found: "Sangeet," meaning music. Hers was a miraculous story. A woman from the United States had come to shoot a film about Sangeeta's neighborhood and the community of widows and their children for a company called Colony Earth. At the first opportunity, Sangeeta asked the woman about Colony Earth. If they could fund a video about her situation, she thought, maybe they could do more.
The young filmmaker engaged in many discussions with Sangeeta over the months she was in Bangalore. Thanks to the help of a translator, what started out as a documentary soon turned into a Kickstarter-style video seeking funding for Sangeeta and her community of widow mothers. They wanted to start a Colony Earth farming village outside Bangalore where she grew up.
The pitch was simple. They needed $120K US to buy a small farming property where they could build the modest housing complex. There would be a central kitchen, a pasture for some goats, and a processing area for the crops. The video showed the riverside land they wanted to buy, as well as footage of a similar completed Colony Earth project with its little houses and cost-effective design. The community of widows loved it when the filmmaker from Colony Earth showed it to them! The video explained how, through working together, the community of women and their children could raise natural (non GMO) crops to actually make a meager living and hopefully even give some donations back to Colony Earth projects.
The video was so real, raw, and effective that the campaign raised well over the required $120K and bought a larger plot of land. They hired workers, bought more goats, and began providing milk to restaurants in Bangalore. Members from Colony Earth even flew out to India to act as consultants and provide yet more support with building the infrastructure.
The Sangeet community outside Bangalore made headlines. Soon enough, it was attracting visitors and actually turning a nice profit. True to the gifting economy ethos, the widows in the community all decided to give a small percentage of their earnings back to the community of Colony Earth that had given them the chance to help themselves.
Sangeeta wiped her hands on her apron as she walked outside and marveled at the thriving community she now lived in. The milking station had rows and rows of goats waiting their turn. The solar panel array powered the simple lighting system, as well as the internet connection and other basics. Water vaporizers were set up all over the property and provided a steady supply of drinking water for the community.
Laughter followed a squad of kids as they went from the gardens to the school house, where they were taught by a Colony Earth member. The teacher waved at Sangeeta, came over and greeted her apologetically.
"Sangeeta," he said in Hindi. "I'm sorry to bother you right now, but I was hoping you might approve the bounty for the teaching I have been doing. I know you're busy and must have forgotten."
Sangeeta clasped her hand over her mouth. "I am so sorry!" She bowed and reached into her back pocket, pulled out her smart phone and clicked the Colony Earth app. Like all the other women in her village, she was now a member-owner of Colony Earth. She checked off the educator bounty she had placed, which had brought the young college student to the Sangeet colony in the first place.
The teacher looked at his phone and saw his payment of 200 Permacredits appear in his crypto wallet. He smiled and hugged her. "Thanks Sangeeta," he said, as he turned around and started coaxing his pupils into their seats. "Settle down, children. Time to learn some math."
Oh yes! Things have changed indeed.