Language patterns, the media and cultural re-storying

newspaper-664513_1280It’s fashionable these days to summon the concept of narrative for effecting change, whether it’s to evoke brand loyalty, to create demand for some product or, on a rather more substantive scale, to persuade humans to live more peaceably on the planet. I’d personally prefer to see its mysterious power deployed in pursuit of a lot more of the latter and a lot less of the former two — if this power actually exists. (more…)

Reclaiming our place in the planet’s ecology

food sov farmers-market-local-produce-520It is a standing joke in my home that when dinner appears, whether it’s a curry or a quiche, someone has to ask “whose is it?”

The quip is an affectionate lampoon of my step-father, who for as long as I’ve known him has never eyed a piece of meat on the Sunday lunch table without asking precisely that question.


WANTED. Planet in crisis seeks leaders up to the job

V leadership-transition

When the essence of leadership tends in the direction of doing injury and inflicting harm, it is a collapse of leadership, for which we do not have a name. – Stephen C Rose, in the introduction to his book: The Coming Collapse of Leadership.

Why is it that slow food, slow money and slow travel are so appealing, but that there’s nothing quite as dull as a slow catastrophe?

Perhaps it’s because when you slow down food, money and travel, it allows you to more fully savour the genuine rich pleasures to be had in the senses and in the moment.

Whereas if you slow down a catastrophe, that doesn’t work at all, because catastrophes are meant to be enjoyed at pace. (more…)

Could do better: why we must set young minds free

Back to the chalk-faceIn the same week that my 16 year old son began assessing his options for subjects and sixth form colleges for next year, his 11 year old brother made a bold but flawed attempt to bunk off school, managing to duck away from the school bus and secrete himself in the local churchyard with his packed lunch and a plan to sit out the day under a bush.

The closeness of the school community and his older brother’s vigilance meant that his absence was spotted and reported within an hour; to his chagrin he was back in school for second lesson. But there were insights to be taken from this traumatic, if brief experience.


Stories will lead us back to the forest

Stories yet to be written. Credit @fiona_veritas

Credit: @fiona_veritas

It’s been another long intermission, but with a heave of the creaky ropes and a squeak of the pulleys I hereby open the curtains on a new act for Vivid.

Since last writing here, there has been a time of false dawns and illusory summits; of horizons that came pleasingly into view only to be lost again in cloud. Of conflicting goals and wavering beliefs. On the surface it was no more than another period of indecision about future directions, brought on by a relentless and uninvited flow of leads and possibilities, each a distraction from the previous, and each, when it came to serious analysis, of dubious compatibility with my skills, resources and leanings.


Pink pants, red herrings and life’s work

(or: More than my job’s worth, part 2)

The snickett where the pants lay.

Some weeks ago I made a decision. Except that it wasn’t me that was making the decision, I thought, it was the pants. They had been lying there, in the path, for probably more than a year. It’s a muddy, narrow path between hedge and houses; the route to school that I walk with my son every morning. A dozen parents had casually side-stepped the pants a thousand times apiece, perhaps not noticing them, perhaps embarrassed; but surely all, like me, wondering secretly: whose were they? How had they fallen off? Were they missed? Surely someone should pick them up. Should I pick them up?

Yet month in, month out, they lay there, unloved and ignored, covered in turn by summer dust, autumn leaves and winter snowfalls, exposed after every wind or thaw to reveal an ever more crumpled, downtrodden repose, their pinkness struggling to be heard beneath the deepening coating of mud and algae.

The day I decided to pick them up would be the day my life would change, I thought. The pants had called me. And if you respond to the call, the pants are yours. (more…)