I have always had images of Jezero drawn inside my head from all the stories we heard as children, about the resilient people that built a sustainable utopia in the middle of the desert, radically morphing the climate to preserve all forms of life from all over their tiny world. When I walked down its’ streets, I found myself overwhelmed with the shininess of gold detailing every corner of the city, significantly exceeding what I have ever imagined. What is even more remarkable, is the golden state of mind that all the inhabitants shared; everything they have, everything they do, every single person, thing, and thought are considered valuable in their society. Ever since it was established back in 2050, people started taking refuge there, as one of the few cities that remain pure from the blanketing wave of prejudice and hostility covering our times.
Area: 1,200 km²
Elevation: 1,340 m
CURRENCY: Jezero DINAR
On the outskirts of the city, some natives still lived in the desert, while others regularly stepped out of the dome into the desert, and just take time to appreciate the warm golden sand, open spaces, and absolute silence.
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Meet Arabic Skateboard Artist
Skateboarding in Jezero
In the midst of that golden aura, I met the embodiment of ruckus on wheels, Hakiem. He was wreaking havoc all over town, anywhere, everywhere, just him and his skateboard; it was a quite remarkable scene to witness, it was as if the entire place was his massive canvas, and he reached for every corner with precise detail.
He even managed to annoy the hell out of a group of old people simply by falling down too many times, according to them he was “being unnecessarily self-harmful, and loud”, you could see the glares of disapproval showering his very presence in that moment. “For a culture that values everything, people seem to give you a hard time around here, don’t they?” I empathetically asked in hopes of lifting his spirits a bit after what I could only describe as a hilariously painful crash. “These old hypocrites can’t see value if it hit them square in the face, don’t believe everything you hear about this place” he responded as he got up and dusted himself off.
“I’m Belatsunat, here…” I handed him his skateboard, “It refreshing to see people still skateboarding, you’d expect to see skateboards hung on walls as antiques handed down from generation to generation, these days everybody is hovering with programmable hoverboards”.
“Nah, those Hovies don’t know what they’re missing, the friction, the sound of wheels, the uncontrolled speed downhill, the thrill of not having PrOgRamEd sAfTeY mEcHaNiSms, you can’t get these sensations with those soul-less levitating pieces of hyped-up plastic!” he overdramatically spewed in my face.
“Woah woah woah, easy there Gilgamesh, just pointed out what I noticed, no need to stress yourself”
After he introduced himself, properly this time, we found common grounds in the streets; I was surprised to notice how many similarities we had, our upbringing, our search for uncovering who we are through our mediums, the obstacles that we set for ourselves to overcome in order to advance further, we just had slightly different approaches to deal with life. In a culture that values everything, what he did was deemed invaluable by the same society that sculpted him, and disconnected him from the mainstream, unveiling the façade of pseudo-value they shared.
“People here only value either what has been delivered to them through tradition, or what they’ve been sold, without even critically questioning the reasons behind any of those things” he tried to explain, “if they can’t understand why I skateboard right there and then, they automatically look for ways to discourage me; asking me questions like, HoW wIlL yOu MaKe MoNeY oUt Of ThIs? Or, wHy DoNt YoU Do SoMeThIng MoRe ProDuctIve WiTh YoUr TiMe? What they don’t know is, without skateboarding, I wouldn’t know where I would be right now, it’s who I am, I find the most value in it, and none in what I’ve been spoon-fed”
“Well… What do you plan to do with all of that?” I asked, intrigued by his point of view
“I will keep kicking and pushing forward, I guess. Find my own golden state of mind, establish my own value, and slowly change the perception of people; otherwise, we’re going to be stuck here, forever, lying to ourselves about having value” he answered with conviction, as if he had been thinking about this goal for a considerable amount of time. “I also want to spread my passion. Sometimes when small kids see me, they ask for a turn on my skateboard, and I share this experience with them. I feel satisfied, no, I feel happy when I open up the door of my passion to some random kid on the street, who might even feel what I feel, this freedom, this clearer desire to do something beyond what we are taught. Maybe in the future, this path will somehow grant him this somewhat outlandish perspective into this made-up societal structure, and maybe with enough eyes from the outside peeking in, we might even have a chance to drive change.”
At that moment, I knew, I had made interesting friends in Jezero, and this small taste of authenticity, made me appreciate this city even more. I knew I had to come back here someday, and maybe see a whole bunch of skateboarders falling around every staircase, annoying every old person, and completely losing their shit about levitating pieces of hyped-up plastic.