I was very privileged to be able to go to Edinburgh Fringe Festival with one of my clients last week.
Taking it offline
One of my colleagues was putting a play called Fruity and the Tweet, which we all went to see together and was absolutely amazing. Going to the fringe was a great example of my online work life migrating into the offline world, and joining up with another of my interests: arts and culture.
Going to the fringe was a great example of my online work life migrating into the offline world, and joining up with another of my interests: arts and culture. I’ve been to the fringe before but this was the first time I’ve known anyone behind the performances and I loved feeling part of this massive expression of creativity and community.
I would never have had this opportunity to meet such amazing people had I not quit my job to become a freelance writer, and see where the wind takes me. The digital nomad life is not for me, but I do like having the freedom to travel where I want, live where I want and take time off without having to ask permission from anyone!
Edinburgh is an absolutely beautiful city as well, with its magnificent countryside, ageing castles, hipster shops and cafes, traditional pubs, creative venues, handy transport links and historical/literary influences.
Image: view from one of the bridges in Edinburgh
I stayed in another Airbnb which was my second one in Edinburgh, and our host was lovely. I reflected again on the rise of the sharing economy which, coincidentally, is the subject of one of my current client articles, and how Airbnb has radically affected the nature of travel and how we experience our leisure time.
It’s never been so easy to meet strangers and touch each other’s lives, if only briefly. It also creates new ways for greedy business to abuse the system and rent out valuable housing stock for short-term accommodation, exacerbating the housing crisis.
This is reflected on the streets, with the rise of homeless people in Edinburgh compared to the last time I was there.
Image: Me at the unfinished monument in Calton Park
There seemed to be far less homeless people in Edinburgh than there are in Manchester, but there were still many people begging for money on the streets. It’s hard experiencing the fringe festival when there are so many people around who are literally on the fringe, struggling to survive.
Poverty is a very serious problem and one that I’m working towards tackling through my involvement in organisations like Mustard Tree, StreetSupport and The Pavement. It seems to be worse up north compared to the south, and even compared to London.
Manchester is a magnet for people who are in difficult circumstances because there is an existing community for them to join, and Edinburgh is probably the same.
Image: View of some of the countryside directly next to the city
The role of technology
It’s not a problem that can be solved all at once, but technology has a role to play in accelerating change.
Only government policy can sustainably help the poorest members of our society, and ensure that we tackle mental health issues before they result in problems like drug addiction, crime and homelessness.
If we can use technology to create revolutionary platforms like Airbnb, that disrupt the status quo in an astonishingly short space of time, then we can also apply it to important social problems.
If people see the need, and believe a proposal will have a better result than what they were doing before, then they will adopt the solution. That’s why we came up with the idea Stop the Spiral, which won the recent #homelesshack at Valtech.
I hope that more people will get involved in the tech community, lending their skills, intelligence and energy to important causes.
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