Human Flower Project
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Sustained by a Father’s Flowers
Aung San Suu Kyi’s signature flowers, reaching back to childhood in Burma, arrived with her in Oslo.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Twenty-one years after it was awarded to her, Aung San Suu Kyi accepted her Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway, June 16.
Leader of the Burmese opposition movement, political prisoner, and now a member of Myanmar’s Parliament, she withstood decades of house arrest and separation from her husband and children. Though the government that jailed her permitted her to leave the country and rejoin her family (in the hopes that she would stay away), Aung San Suu Kyi refused, chosing to prolong her own detention rather than abandon the stand for human rights in Burma.
We have taken note since nearly the beginning of Human Flower Project that in public appearances, Aung San Suu Kyi always wears flowers in her hair. She did so at the Nobel Prize convocation today, clusters of white roses pinned beneath her chignon.
But until reading reading Steven Erlanger’s report in The New York Times, we never knew why. “It is a gesture she makes in honor of her father, Gen. Aung San, an independence hero of Burma, who was assassinated in 1947, when she was 2, but whom she remembers threading flowers through her hair.”
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Colombian Flowers: Duty-Free Again
The new Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia went into effect yesterday. Colombian flowers are that country’s major export to the U.S. and have gobbled up the U.S. market since the early 1990s.
Sizing and sorting roses: a worker at Elite greenhouse in Facatativa, Colombia.
Interest in locally grown U.S. flowers is swelling into advocacy, “the 50-mile bouquet” gaining the moral high ground from organics (though many a producer who grows for nearby markets uses organic methods, too).
Meanwhile, the machineries of global government and big business roar ahead.
Yesterday, a shipment of 4,200 boxes filled with 1.2 million Colombian flowers arrived at Miami International Airport duty free. On May 15 the new Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, a deal 12 years in the making, went into effect, and Colombia’s first export was a cargo plane of blooms from nine megafarms.
Colombian flowers had already “enjoy[ed] preferential tariffs” in the U.S. – part of a 20-year strategy to divert Colombian growers from coca production. Augusto Solano, president of the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, said that U.S. market now receives 76% of its exports.
But Miami Herald writer Mimi Whitefield explains that deal “lapsed last year just before Valentine’s Day and wasn’t renewed until October . In the meantime, Miami flower importers had to pay tariffs on flowers imported from Colombia and Ecuador, resulting in an extra $2.5 million a month in duties.”
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
How We Used to Be
Talking back to the past, John Levett owns up to an inner Constance Spry. Let’s continue, John, whenever, however. For what’s gone before, all thanks.
Bench at Letchworth Garden City
“Toward the Smell of Progress” (8/14/07)
Essay and photos by John Levett
There was a long-serving picture editor at Time-Life whose name I can’t recall. He wrote well and remembered every picture he came across. One of his best pieces was about the numbers who regularly sent him their snaps and, almost as a matter of course, expected an off-the-cuff portfolio review. He was politeness itself in responding briefly to the submissions whilst wishing that he could bring to these responses words along the lines of: ‘You have a fine photograph of the Washington Monument but I would venture that it lacks two essential components. The first is Martin Luther King and the other is half a million people.’
Saturday, March 10, 2012
This Blessed Plot
What happened to the front garden? The original home theater and neighborhood forum, a gift that’s been retracted. (Thank you, John.)
Essay and photos by John Levett
There’s a saying: ‘Don’t change yer clout ‘til may is out.’ Discussion used to always arise about whether changing clout (clothing) should take place after the may (hawthorn) came out or May came in. Whatever. The may is out and in these parts it feels as if the season is on the turn. The weather has been kind this year. It’s just turned March and I’m in credit with the energy company. We had a cold spell at the opening of February but you get the feeling that that’s that.
March is busy: finish pruning anything left before nesting time, clear the space of rubbish, repair paths, wash out the shed & re-prime, buy in the mulch, first feed, tie in stray shoots, secure ramblers—get to the point where you feel you can start sitting in the garden. It’s a long month to come before I’m in that state but it’s started.
It’s a time when the planning trope creeps back in. What’s the new grand design? What’s not there that should be? What have I always planned to raise? Everything’s possible at this time. Nothing that’s not worth a shot. Gardening in heroic mode. (Note to self: “Yes it’s failure, but how good a failure?” - Cornell West.)
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