Human Flower Project
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Tonic to the Nation
Did you miss the Festival of Britain? Likely so. And though post-war styles are in revival, its spirit of communitarian hope is harder to come by.
Festival Gardens at the Festival of Britain 1951
Let the days of “getting-by” be gone
Photo: Pete G., via wiki
By John Levett
One of the most memorable events in my life was the 1951 Festival of Britain—memorable because I never went to it. I was six years old at the time and most probably was completely unaware of its happening then, but as the years and decades went by it loomed larger and larger in my consciousness as one of the significant misses in my life. The most probable reason for the miss was that my mother couldn’t afford it. She ran a small grocer’s store in Luton at the time and looked after gran. I doubt that the store made much but it was the only grocer’s in the street so we got by.
‘Getting by’ was a frequently-used phrase in the post-war years. One of the finest writers of social history of this or any time is David Kynaston. Last summer I read his opening volume of Britain’s post-war years ‘Austerity Britain 1945-51’ and am just finishing ‘Family Britain 1951-57.’ No description of their quality from me would suffice; read them and smell the smog.
Earlier this Summer I was frequently trolling down to London with packages of art work for a couple of exhibitions tied to bike, thence to backpack. For this annual hike I have a carrier-bag of string; for the packaging I have bubble-wrap from the waste-skips at the back of a retail park; for the reinforcement I have cardboard from the back end of Asda. I’ve never outgrown the collect-and-save “You’ll never know when it’ll come in useful” routine of those post-war years; never walk past a builder’s skip without checking if there’s anything worth retrieving.
Art & Media • Culture & Society • Gardening & Landscape • Politics • Permalink
Friday, September 09, 2011
Twin Towers : Himalayan Mayapples
Plantsman Allen Bush was on a collecting trip in Sichuan, China, on 9/11. Ten years later, he remembers the helplessness of distance and the security gained from two tiny companions, their feet on the ground.
Alpine flowers on the way to Zhe Duo Pass, China
Photo: Pam Spaulding
By Allen Bush
I was with a group of plant explorers in Kanding, China on the evening of September 11, 2001. We’d just finished dinner. One of our Chinese drivers, known as the Wrench for his mechanical skills, knew I liked to check emails. He asked me and Pierre Bennerup if we wanted to go to an Internet café.
We’d been in China for over a week and were scheduled to travel throughout western Sichuan for another three weeks. Internet access was widely available across China, usually on very slow dial-up modems. Even in remote towns where farmers were herding yaks down a rutted muddy street and laundry was being done on a rock down by the river, you could find the Internet. Competition flourished with one café in the Sichuan mountain town of Moxi charging $2.00 an hour, another down the street charging a cutthroat $1.00. The smoky cafes were filled with teenagers playing shoot ‘em-up games.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Making $39 a Month?
There oughta be law against paying cut-flower workers (or anybody) just $39 a month. Naivasha’s MP has proposed to up their minimum wage. Leaders of the Kenyan industry are pushing back, hard.
A worker in Kenya’s $21 million cut flower industry
Photo: Business Daily
Do the cut-flower workers of Kenya deserve to make $100 A MONTH?
John Mututho, Member of Parliament from Naivasha, where the nation’s biggest flower farms are clustered, thinks so. And that would be a big pay raise! Mututho has introduced an amendment to the Labour Institutions Act that would increase flower workers’ monthly wages from the current 3,765 Kenya Shillings ($39.71) to Sh 10,050 (the equivalent of $106.01).
The Kenya Flower Council is lobbying Parliament, meanwhile, to prevent legislative authority over minimum wages, in other words, to keep wages down.