Tag Archives: disruption

Disruption, Are You Rigid?

According to my dear friend Marilyn there are two kinds of people, those who prefer towers and the others which prefer caves, the former observers and the latter shelterers I would add that neither of these can hold off the ‘inconvenience’ of disruption.

The result of our cumulative experiences makes each of us shelter in uniquely different ways. Despite our protests we all have finely defined boxes, sometimes our boxes include massively built walls, which make us comfortable and ‘safe’. Entrenched in our comfort we grow ever less capable of being expansive. Our self-imposed exile of stability restricts our movement as surely as shackles might. Disruption is going to happen so I think it is prudent to recall Dr. Wayne Dyer’s words:

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When we close ourselves off from disruption can be as small as the cap left off the toothpaste, or the toilet seat left up by a new lover, a guest in our home slicing a lemon differently or being a fresh air fanatic living in our homes with the windows thrown open (my hand is raised high here). Disruption after all is unsettling, upsetting, annoying and it is an enormous opportunity for growth.  The irony is, that if asked, those who are the most thoroughly entrenched truly believe that they are functioning in a state of expansive love, generosity and kindness – the truth is only on their terms.

Rigidity is not my friend, or yours. In the two years I spent as a digital nomad I have had ample opportunity to serve as ‘the disruptive force’, and I do mean “serve” in the truest sense of that word.

Lots is made of ‘being agile’ whether an organisation or an individual, embracing change, rather than fighting it, allows the best possible outcome to manifest. And yes, I really do believe that on our spiritual path in attaining at-one-ment with The Universe, or God, having our comfort zone pushed and pulled out of its normal shape is very good for us, necessary even. Disruption forces us to confront what we fear and let it lead us forward, or we can beat a hasty retreat from it returning to what makes us comfortable.

Recently I made a choice to help someone spend more quality time with their elderly parents prior to their departure on a rather long trip, but I needed to establish boundaries around my offer. Those parameters would allow me to be generous with my time and culinary talents but ensure that I didn’t bear an undue financial burden. We are always free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices. The response to my words came with consequences, disruption to the stability of my life and a hefty financial cost for the individual. Here is where personal responsibility kicks in, but it could be something ‘more’. I fully accept the karma of my choice but I have to wonder if The Universe was really using me as an instrument, or somehow protecting me (yet again). What if my words were meant to as an opportunity to help move this person dramatically away from the entrenched rigidity of their life? (my perception). Their subsequent choice denies their pets my love and companionship and their home security, and they will subsequently incur a cost of €50 a day for eight months while I am denied a measure of stability to write and conduct business. Quel domage.

Rigidity or resilience, how do you deal with disruption?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

 

Hack ~ innovation to global happiness

To hack used to be something I did ‘to be useful’ out in the “back forty” with one of these – you swing it back and forth thus ‘hacking’ the weeds down to something more manageable for a mower unit on a tractor to cover, or to till the earth without having all the seed heads getting into Imagethe dirt and creating even more work in the long run.

Hacking hasn’t been that for me for a very long time, primarily because in the early 1990s I landed a MarComm Manager role at a tech company spun out of the IBM, MCI and Merit called, then, ANS CORE Systems, Inc., shortly thereafter, changed to ANS Communications.  At that point, amidst towers, air conditioned closets, vast pyramids of empty cans of Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola, my awareness of hacking shifted dramatically; hacking became something our team of programmers protected our Fortune 500 client base from happening to their information systems with firewall and VPDN solutions.  Each and every one of my colleagues possessed the technical skills capable of breaking into, rather than protecting, IT systems but each had the moral compass to ‘do no harm’.  They were (and continue to be) innovators – way ahead of the technology curve that most of us deal with on a daily basis and obsessed with achieving perfection in code – my job was to shine a spotlight on the product suite they developed and have it gain adoption with our core audiences.

The general public is a bit more aware of hacking today – security breaches abound from crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, to Forbes and Neiman Marcus – it’s generally a rather nefarious association to hack something.  But thankfully hacking is emerging from doing “a hack job” to something about fostering positive disruption of a less-than-ideal status quo by applying the creativity inherent to each and every one of us.

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To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.

 — Albert Einstein

Several months ago I sat enraptured watching Logan LaPlante’s TEDx presentation on hacking his education – I am not a mom, but had I been such I would so want to create an environment for learning and living life for my kids as his parents clearly have.  At the end of the day it is Logan doing the heavy lifting on his life with a maturity that far too many of us (insert any nationality) do not possess. Self awareness, discipline, creativity and curiosity drive him (as much as his love of skiing on fresh powder).  The seminal article by Dr Roger Walsh referenced by Logan encompasses eight building blocks of a happy and healthy life and are referred to as Therapeutic Lifestyles Changes (TLCs) and I can’t help but wonder why (like Logan) this path to living has not become more mainstream – well, in fact I do know why, as do most of us.

The paradigm of happiness is treated like a Holy Grail instead of something common to our experience and when our reality fails to ‘live up to’ the perception drilled into our psyche by the media we chose ‘medication’ (pills, alcohol or on the psychiatrists’ sofa) rather than stepping into the void. The core outcome of hacking is innovation ~ seeing the possibility of doing something easier, with greater style or more efficiently, fostering positive impact for ourselves and the world around us all of which exist at the core of social responsibility.

ImageThere are hundreds of thousands of ‘hackers’ whose efforts have produced totally cool end results, but I want to share two extremes of creative thinking with you that I believe have real possibilities of fostering paradigm shifts in many of our lives.  Though I don’t personally know any of these people the term lifehack comes immediately to mind when I think of Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin of the Swedish firm Hövding who have created a cyclists dream come true – a bike helmet that is essentially a personal airbag, and the disruptive microfinance and financial inclusion technology model created by the Croatian firm Oradian‘s co-founders Antonio Separovic, Andrew Mainhart, Julian Oehrlein and Onyeka Adibeli.  I think it is a reasonable assumption to write that their quality of life is enhanced because each recognised in themselves creativity begging for outlet and then, as a fundamental principle of their businesses, they engaged in work that both stimulates them and which also incorporates ‘service to others’.  

Yes, I realise that my perception of any of these, and thousands of others, individuals might be skewed toward something larger than reality but in believing such perhaps the resonance of innovationpositive carries forward to inspire more creativity, catalysing innovation and fostering change.

As the Buddha is credited with saying, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Disruption

csx trainIn the absolute of pre-dawn darkness every morning for the last five years a CSX freight train has, despite the elevated track through the city where I live and the prohibition to do so, sounded its clarion.  That I am now ‘conditioned’ to wake prior to this takes nothing away from the interference with my sleep. Disruption.  It reads as a word either full of possibility or infused with dread (in the case of that damn train dread). If you are a business person the application of this word comes in tandem with consultants whose fees to help your company navigate digital disruption, disruptive innovation, and disruptive technologies are often equal to the GDP of small countries (more dread).  I am not suggesting that SMEs and enterprises avoid embracing the innovation and resulting efficiencies which ensure continuity and growth but communications ‘people’ such as myself stand back in wonder each time a buzz phrase gains foothold and is uttered to intimidate or illicit awe and reverence. Folks, change is change, it’s inevitable and unavoidable.  It really doesn’t matter what moniker is attached to it, but it is the management of that (impeding) change, understanding it and cascading it with clarity and thoroughness that is critical to thrive, survive or fail – in business, or in life. Now that I have that rant out of the way let’s address the scope of change and how to embrace it.

Change is, either, what remains after using paper currency to pay for something or what keeps us vital – I am focusing on the latter.  We are, by nature, complacent. If our needs are fulfilled then the status quo (for most) is just fine. We use a thousand excuses to our friends and mates and those unexpressed personal denials for keeping things as they are. But when the illusion of satisfaction finally slips away it is with a resounding thud like construction buddhist monkboots being dropped on the floor.  It is the teachings of Buddhist masters and the way they live with the impermanence of all things, the serenity which moves all that surrounds them that, for me, serves as the greatest catalyst for understanding and embracing change.  These masters, upon retiring each evening, empty their cups and turn them upside down, extinguish their fires (including the embers) and if they are truly blessed face a quiet death in their sleep.  We will all die – whether in five seconds, five minutes, five hours, five days, five months, five or fifty years. It’s left to us to embrace each day and discover the possibilities which abound in fostering positive change in our lives and the world around us.  [I actually loathe the collective application of the expression “personal growth” – primarily because I don’t believe that many actually actively embrace disrupting their lives and because, I think, it’s awfully easy to stand on this platform and talk about it than it is to actually do something which fundamentally alters the way we ‘do’ and live.  By screaming I am ‘aware’ so as to imply being ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ is the antithesis of growth – ah, hypocrisy – some future post will handle an accounting of personal growth.]

Creative types (of all kinds) embrace disruption.  The recognition of and the possibility to improve something, anything, to solve a weighty problem or a thorny issue, is the creative minds’ driving force.  Once, not so long ago, even communications and marketing efforts were formulaic. But on a daily basis the confluence of traditional methodologies with social media and Web 3.0 provide un-parallel opportunities to engage and expand constituent audiences that could not have been imagined even five years ago. As always it is the skilled use of language which determines resonance and amplification and I am thinking about this a bit more of late – both disruptive communications and building new audiences.

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Disruption (Photo credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi)

As a relatively new blogger (less than 3 months at the time of this writing) I am experiencing the adrenalin rush which accompanies the addition of each new countries’ flag and the shaded geographic boundaries on the map accompanying my ‘stats’. To date (and this is astonishing to me) I have readers in 27 countries (15 months later this figure has climbed to 117 countries) – without ‘really’ trying (it’s not my thing to leverage my skills for personal recognition much to the dismay of my friend #DearKen). The other influence on my psyche for thinking about change rests with the 835 individuals and 21 organizations whose efforts have been recognised by the Nobel Organisation. Each of those Nobel Laureates was driven forward by the illusive ‘something’, often for decades, which ultimately disrupted the status quo and fostered positive change for humanity.  Of course these individuals and organisations didn’t start out vying for a Nobel Prize.  I would like to think that their inspiration, their resulting success and the impact which all this eventually has on the rest of us is noticed but the truth is – it’s not.  And that lack of awareness keeps the percentage of individuals striving toward creative and positive disruption far too small for the weighty issues facing humankind today. The fact that in searching through Twitter accounts I found that most of these incredibly inspiring individuals are as reclusive as Mary Stewart’s Merlin does nothing to improve the chance for their influencing the next generation.  Shaking things up doesn’t have to be messy or costly, but it does require adapting to the real and the metaphoric shifting sands and melting glaciers of changing communications protocols surrounding us.

Gandhi’s words resonant: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

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Das Boot(s)!

Yesterday I scored a pair of utterly impractical, Kaki Daniels black velvet boots on eBay for $51.99 (original retail around $500) because, well, because of OKCupid… and also because I am working on my second book – this one about finding love after 50 (yet untitled) so I am considering them a prop for ‘field research’.

My book is chronicling my personal experiences in navigating online dating, combining it with research involving histories’ greatest lovers, Imagethe lives and ‘careers’ of women commonly referred to as Les Grandes Horizontales of 19th century France, Geisha’s, Venetian courtesans (like Veronica Franco), the seductive power of, say, Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman and the confusion I experienced in watching Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, what makes something truly sensual, and men, oh, yes MEN, finding a GREAT ONE and what makes them respect, swoon, finally commit! That I am the least qualified woman on the planet to write about these (I am not a scholar of women’s studies, human sexuality or for that matter a historian) matters not.  Why? Let’s start with the fact that I can still hear my mother say “why do you have to make every guy your best friend?” (Maybe because that safer path meant I wouldn’t come home a pregnant teenager or acquire STDs.) Okay, and I was a virgin on my wedding night and I can count more years of not having intimate physical relations than those in which I have.  Oh yes, and I have this ABSOLUTE about physical expression needing to be bound to emotional and spiritual commitment.  But I am curious and as someone who exists in a state of mindful sensuality about virtually everything, whose friends leave notes on the back of business cards tucked inside my books saying things like “use your power wisely”, I wonder WHY have I put off finding this ‘perfect for me’ man and hopefully in finding him I might create laughter, foster thoughtfulness, encourage the passionate exploration of life and love, and find it without clichés in the process. Of course I am experiencing plenty of clichés!

Anyway, back to the boots, which in their own way are just as scary as the movie title I have used for this post!  I have never owned anything remotely like these – they are so sexy that they should come with a warning label and age restriction around their use. I am trying to figure out what (besides the obvious Lise Charmel) to wear them with, and more specifically with whom and when!?  None of that matters for the present.  It was the art of bidding here in combination with the fact that “the universe” clearly understood that I should have them is most important. One, never, ever, be in a hurry. The auction, as most are, was 7 days in duration. At the time I found the listing (primarily a fluke because I was actually searching for a pair of Emma Hope beaded and embellished mules) 3 days remained, they had one bid of $18.99, and I was not inclined to pay more than $40 plus shipping for something so frivolous. So I put them on my watch list and w-a-i-t-e-d.

I was on a Skype call when the countdown to bidding began – 34 minutes to the auction ending. It’s amazing how slowly time can pass even while multi-tasking. All of the sudden it was 3 minutes to go. At 2 minutes before auction end I opened the bid window, entered $60, prayed that my timing was spot on against the processing (actually I have never done this before) cycles at eBay, waited until the countdown clock cleared 58 seconds and submitted my bid. My heart was racing, my hands clammy. Really? Over a pair of boots I might not have the nerve to wear in public (or private) in the spirit of discovering their effect on the right man? The site registered my bid, and the high bid jumped from $18.99 to $31.99 at 2 seconds to go – and then, CONGRATULATIONS, YOU WON! My girlfriend in London did a happy dance with me virtually.

bootsMaybe the boots have certain magical powers like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. Almost as a reaction to my stepping over the edge of reason, the universe conspired and an OKCupid suitor sent me an invitation to be his guest in Egypt at the end of November.   (I doubt these will be in my luggage.)

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#freedom

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The cave painters understood, just as Sun Tzu, Ben Franklin, and Georges Danton did, that effective communications (deployed using available technology) can realize extraordinary results.  The Founding Fathers of the United States would have thrilled to the amplification and resonance realized by the advent of social media. I rather like the idea of #freedom having a permanent hashtag, equally so #4July, Tienanmen, Bastille, and so forth. Freedom has always required eloquence and foot soldiers – words only inspire, there has always been the need for those willing to be cannon fodder, to risk their very lives to foster the change. As Tacitus recognized speaking out against the sated complacency of the status quo can be both dangerous and necessary.

It is the rare fortune of these days that one may think what one likes and say what one thinks.

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

~ Gaius Cornelius Tacitus c. 56 – c.117 AD (various translations)

And so, in this moment, Bulgaria, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Tibet… and, also a world standing up to right the imbalances and ills which plague all of us – human trafficking, climate change, neonicotinoids, fracking, water and food (in)security, avarice, sectarian violence, violence against women, violence against our planet.  Violence seems thematic and, I hate it.  I believe in something purer. Something of the truest nature of our being, of consciousness and love.

Two evenings’ ago I had the blessing of sharing Fourth of July celebrations with my neighbors Cliff and Jennilee and her boyfriend Tim. And this, like a handful of 4 July celebrations standing out in my memory for being truly extraordinary, also involved baseball.

Come with me to Fenway Park, home of my beloved Boston Red Sox and attend a game many years ago now with my friend Juan Carlos, a Cuban émigré (via Hungary and Canada) now fenwayAmerican citizen, and his Cuban brother-in-law. Here you ‘feel’ a 100 years (Fenway opened in 1912) of fellow spectators squeezed, layered together in the love of the game. The cherished Green Monster looms. The smell of baseball lingers—Cracker Jack©, hot dogs, ice cream and peanuts. Dads with their kids. “Cold beer here” chanted over and over to the point that even if you don’t really want one, you need one to complete your place in the montage. There is NO PLACE in America that resonates so sublimely about all that is great about this game and our country as Fenway Park on a bright blue day in July. When the Star-Spangled Banner played my eyes fill with tears of gratitude to be in this place with a man who took enormous risk to be able to sit here.  Humbled to be born here and not have to claw my way, the long way around, to home. The seats, far closer to the field than Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones enjoyed in Field of Dreams© are along the first base line, sunshine spills over us, I can hear in my head the refrain of a pitch perfect soliloquy:

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

—James Earl Jones, as Terrence Mann, in Field of Dreams (1989)

But this evening I am watching baseball played between the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. These three friends have ‘treated me’ given the dearth of my current finances for such pleasures.  In 85 degree temperatures my neighbor Cliff kindly shares the coldest top two inches of his beer, which will help to give me a frightful hangover to recover from on 5 July. Behind us a family of dad, a physical stereotype of a US Marine but not actually, his mom, wife/mom and their three gorgeous kids file in, in front of us, four women and two men (also a family) sit. It is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, harmonious energy which surrounds us. In truth it is as perfect as it can possibly be, it is also humbling.  That too much of this perfection is taken for granted by all those 10,000+ people present. I feel it, but intellectually come to understand this as the evening unfolds. I discover that the father of the dad escaped Eastern Europe by jumping from a moving train taking him to a work camp during the Communist era following World War II.  From the family in front of me, the father in his late 80’s was among the Allied Forces at Normandy.

As fireworks light the clear night sky I find myself transported back to 1995 where I once stood on the flight deck of a United States Navy aircraft carrier a (rare, non-family member) guest on a July 4th Tiger Cruise. With absolute reverent silence amongst the more than 6,000 of us onboard, engines cut, that huge ship slipped into port in Norfolk, VA and, as our colors were solemnly struck, Lee Greenwood’s voice came over the public address system singing his anthem of God Bless the U.S.A. and my throat clenched, eyes filled, as it does now. The earmark of the evening is as the family behind us files out each of the children, encouraged in advance by their parents, stop to express their thanks to our World War II veteran. I cry harder as our elder neighbor, one of the diminishing numbers of The Greatest Generation, is so honored.

To all the “foot soldiers” who offer themselves as an instrument of disruption and change, whose efforts to make human dignity a real truth and who protect our planet with both passionate rhetoric and sometimes physical violence – my every gratitude and blessing.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Relationships

As children, parents, lovers, friends and employees we engage, learn compromise, encourage, accomplish the benchmarks of life, provide value and, in return, are compensated for our efforts in many different ways. Having recently decided to leave behind authorship and entrepreneurship (and all the solitary nature, long hours, and black hole financial nature entailed) to seek employment again, it is a wonder to me how much has changed in the relationship part of the application and hiring process.

I have listened to friends lament their frustration with ‘business intelligence’ software that is (theoretically) supposed to cherry pick the best candidates from amongst those who are submitting their credentials for a vacancy. Business intelligence software is failing the hiring process, jobs are going unfilled and company reputations are being negatively impacted as a result.  Image(Strong employer branding works in tandem with corporate communications but the underlying systems still need to function properly.)  Some estimates in the United States cite that recruiters and human resources talent managers average a mere 15 seconds per CV for their review; is it any wonder that highly qualified candidates are still unemployed after two years of rigorously applying and interviewing?

More than a year and a half ago a dear friend applied for a senior level position with Mary Kay Cosmetics. S/he was (eventually) shortlisted and a year after initially applying flew to their Dallas headquarters to interview in person.  Six months later – nothing; no one has been hired for the role and not even a blind email distribution communication has been sent, that ‘used to be’ considered rude, today it earns a Twitter #fail.

I just started applying for similar positions in Scandinavia – my experiences to date could not be more different.  For two of the three positions I have applied for in the last fortnight (incredibly) the hiring managers’ name, email and direct phone number (sometimes with hours of availability) have been included in the job description.  One hates to be a ‘bother’ and so for one position I didn’t actually reach out to the woman for fear of seeming a ‘pushy American’ and, with regret, this morning discovered that the company (in less than a week) has already identified their perfect candidate! Whoa. Might a different outcome been realized had only I reached out when the opportunity presented itself?  Yesterday I rose at 3AM EST to grab a shower, have a small breakfast and call the hiring manager at the other company which had provided these details. If I had any expectation it was that I might be given between 10 and 20 minutes of his time – I found myself both apologizing and expressing my gratitude for his goodwill in realizing that we had been chatting for over 45 minutes. This, I should say, was not even an interview! Yes, I certainly believe it was a fact finding mission on both our parts.  Image More importantly, because of his generosity and sincere enthusiasm for his employer I came to recognise that I would be delighted to have this man as my boss as well as work for this company whose culture was made so appealing.

Let’s assume for a moment that some level of discernment is being applied when an individual submits their credentials for consideration; that they are actually at least 85% qualified for the role and the remainder is within our capacity to ‘scale’.  Just as our chemical receptors signal synergy with a potential mate because of our pheromones the hiring process requires a dialogue between two people.  Our human-ness allows for sowing the seeds of a working relationship that will ‘get things done’ as well as be pleasant.  Much as engineers are invaluable to our society I come to doubt the improved efficiencies offered by their ‘coding’ (in this case SEO SaaS) are the answer when so much about working together depends upon the nuance of asking a question, engaged listening, (not) taking another call, (not) texting in the midst of a conversation or in uttering a sigh – in other words, finding mutual respect and building on it. Instead of innovation, maybe corporate America should consider disrupting the hiring process by re-engaging the ‘human’ to human resources functions.

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Reinvention

Today I applied for roles in two Scandinavian countries, one as a consultant for an IT deployment and the other handling corporate communications for a firm in the global textiles industry. Both, as I see it, are opportunities to leverage my communications skills within spaces where I have considerable work experience but to do it outside of my comfort uprootzone.  Each company has been in business at least 165 years; which got me to thinking about reinvention and staying relevant. The ‘synergy’ of my desire to uproot, disrupt and cull the best of my first 52 years and move to a foreign country where I know absolutely no-one and I don’t speak the language and the most certain cycles of reinvention of these two companies have embraced to stay vital seems worth exploring on a more macro basis.  Disruption and migration is as old as mankind – a chief example being our history of being hunter gatherers for millions of years to ‘suddenly’ turning to settlements and agriculture about 12,000 years ago.  Setting down ‘roots’ as it were, someplace that we ‘make’ home versus wandering.

Anyone that reads this blog, or personally knows me, has already come to understand that I am a ferocious gardener.  In making something grow we nourish our souls, our bodies and (if done with reverence) also the Earth.  As ‘we’ (an ever larger segment of thinking society) school gardenFINALLY GET that our kids should know where food comes from and should be able to pronounce everything in it, that they can create beauty at the same time as they become stewards of the planet by digging in the dirt with their own hands, that an earthworm is a critical part of the ecosystem and should be regarded with a kind of spiritual partnering toward human-kinds’ very existence, that there is an opportunity to reclaim blight and turn it toward sustainable urban farming.

World Food Programme cites 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. No one should be hungry – ever – not when the richest 10 percent of adults in the world own 85 hungerpercent of global household wealth and 2% of the world’s population ‘use’ more than 50% of our collectively available resources.  In an attempt to provide foodstuffs and reclaim urban areas suddenly there are plenty of people very excited about vertical gardening.  The MacArthur Foundation, in its Fellow Program (aka Genius Awards) back in 2008 included Will Allen for his Growing Power efforts.  Stephen Ritz received a standing ovation at the 2013 Social Innovation Summit at the United Nations for his efforts with Green Bronx Machine.

ImageBut any little girl over the age of 9 or 10 who has read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s wonderful The Secret Garden understands that walls planted with espaliered trees thrive in the longer ‘season’ offered by the sun warming the brick or stone walls.

Espaliering is an ancient horticulture practice dating back to the Romans but brought to artistic merit by the Europeans during the 17th century.  ImageEspalier is French, but originates from the Italian spalliera, which means “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against,” is the process of controlling plant growth in a flat plane, usually against a wall or fence, sometimes formed into a hedge by training the trees against a free-standing trellis or fence that eventually becomes redundant.

So, the idea that vertical gardening should be tied to left wing liberals, the über-intelligent and hippie dropouts is utterly ridiculous – for goodness sake it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that our planet is only so big, with finite and diminishing resources, GMO being thrust upon a hungry planet and a population desperate to survive.  To stretch our capacity to grow foodstuffs by espalier or vertical gardening is common sense thousands of years old. And so with companies like Green Living Technologies and folks like Will Allen and Stephen Ritz filling a void our stomachs and consciousness. I am reminded – Everything old is new again     

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