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 zone. 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) FINALLY 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 percent 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.
But 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. Espalier 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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