Monday, 18 January 2010

Knowledge work and growing get married

I'm thinking of writing a Manifesto.

A Blended manifesto.

I'll have titles like, Knowledge Work and Farming Get Married

Knowledge / Creative work - yes, why leave out the artists? - and growing need each other. They need to be together, to live together, or at least next door.

Work can be great. But working five days a week for most of your adult life, for most people, sucks. Literally. It sucks the life out. Look at most people when they stop. Old and sucked dry. No thanks.

Aspects of self-sufficiency - gardening, animals, building stuff, sewing stuff - can be great, but try doing the whole show full time and your life becomes one long grind.

Knowledge and creative work need to have manual/growing/agricultural work dropped in the middle of them and wiggled around like marble cake mixture. When you need to think, step back and let ideas or the bigger picture bubble into view, or have rich conversations with colleagues that don't need flipcharts and spreadsheets - this is the time to be getting your hands dirty. An hour or two a day, peppered into your working day. Thinking time.

"A lot of our problems are created in there," said a man in Canon Frome community pointing to the meeting room. "And a lot of the solutions come up in informal conversation out here," he said while we stood together under the big fresh sky, turning a pile of pruned branches into kindling.

Next door, growing needs knowledge or creative work, otherwise it just gets boring. Farmers kill themselves a lot because it's a crap job if you do it all the time. And the system they're in now is horrible,  feels horrible from the inside. You don't just need interesting things to think about and interesting people to talk to while you tinker with the broccoli; you might also need to sing.

I sing a Phoebe Smith song called The Tan Yard Side that my friend Sam taught me.

Phoebe Smith came from Suffolk, like me. She was a farm worker with a voice like a fog horn and she used to sing for everyone as they worked, across the fields.

In Burkina Faso, says Malidoma Some, they play music while they farm. Work is draining, he says, so you need to do things to stay full. Where we use tea and biscuits, the Dagara people use music, he says, because "Music and rhythm are the things that feed someone who is producing something." (p68).

So, that's it really. We need to tear down our buildings and utterly redesign our spatial organisation, nationally, so that offices and growing spaces can get married and live next door to each other.

Here's a nice example, 1.20 in.

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