Monday, April 30, 2007


Funny how the act of deciding one thing makes you realise it was the wrong thing, and actually it's the opposite that's the right choice.

I wasn't going to go, but the thought of sitting in the office (or ill at home) looking out of the window at the sunshine and realising I'd passed up what might be the best chance this year to awaken a spirit that has seemed so dormant I've been beginning to wonder whether it'll ever show signs of life again, was just too much. Like the length of that sentence.

So supplies are bought, rucksack packed, including paracetamol, decongestant and plentiful supplies of tissues. I'll see what I feel like in the morning and make a final decision then. Decidely fuzzy right now, but maybe some Welsh mountain air will clear my head - both literally and metaphorically.

So if I'm not around for the next few days (not that you could tell the difference...) expect plentiful photos of Welsh hills upon my return.


The one week between January and July when work, family and music commitments allow me the opportunity to take a week out camping in the hills, and I go and catch a cold. A cold, having stayed disgustingly healthy all winter, with the weather outside now being gloriously sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and the promise of staying like this all week. Such is life…

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maslow for businesses? 

It must be something in the water on the western seaboard on North America, roundabout the 49th parallel. Hot on the heels of Christy’s post yesterday, comes this from Chris Corrigan:

"There is a kind of deeper hum within every organization - call it the culture if you like - that supports the work, generates the working environment and connects to the purpose of each person. People who are highly satisfied with their jobs and organization will often feel connected to this deeper field. They resonate with the bass note, the fundamental note of the chord. When this note isn’t present, it feels like work is not connected into a deeper pattern. Understand here that I am talking not about organizational purpose - it runs below that. It is more like organizational inspiration, operating at the level of the spirit of the place.

Making Open Space part of the operating system of an organization results in tuning this bass note, or perhaps sounding it again. We have a chance to open space to breathe a little, get some distance from the mundane tasks of our job and ask some of the bigger questions about who we are and where the organization is going.

The folks in this organization are lucky that the upper leadership wants to see things working this way and has provided them with the time and resources both to meet in Open Space and to carry out the small projects starting next week that keep the bass note humming."

This set me thinking, wishing that the organisation I work for might start to think about its business in the way he describes, and wondering what gets in the way of that kind of thinking. Sure, there are issues of scale and leadership - I work in a huge organisation with what I can best describe as tenuous leadership - but we never seem to escape from the urgency of the moment; always hand-to-mouth, always pressured, rarely taking time out to reflect and connect - or not at the intermediate level at which I work, at any rate.

It struck me that there's something at play here which is similar to Maslow’s idea of a hierarchy of human needs, – that our drivers have to be satisfied sequentially so that, for example, the need for food and shelter must first be satisfied before our social needs, for belonging and affection, come into play. Here’s my version of what a hierarchy of business needs might look like:

Just as with Maslow’s human needs, these build on each other and so must be satisfied in sequence.

I want to post more on this, but I know I will have no breathing space at all for the next week at least. Another show – Godspell this time – starts on Tuesday and runs until Saturday. Tech setup tonight, dress rehearsal tomorrow, then shows every night plus a matinee on Saturday. And a full work diary, so it’ll be 7 days of frenetic activity. But hey, this is a blog; I don’t have to wait until I have full thesis, so I’ll develop the thinking here piece by piece, as I have time.

I can see a good fit between this model and conventional businesses, but I wonder whether there might be another model, one perhaps that isn’t built on a monetary foundation? Certainly, currency of some kind seems to be vital, but need that be in the form of cash?

Update: I don't say this model is necessarily "true", but I do think most organisations - the traditional ones, anyway - behave as if it is true. Workplace reorganisations tend to flow from the bottom of this model up, so if you're constantly reorganising, building at the structure/process level, the top levels are never fulfilled. That certainly seems to be the case around here, anyway...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lighting a fire 

You know how a kid feels when he’s discovered something exciting and wants to tell you about it, and the words tumble out in half a dozen incoherent streams all jumbled together? That’s a bit like how I feel having read Christy’s post which links to Wiser Earth, Paul Hawken, and the latter’s new book Blessed Unrest.

I’m actually becoming mildly concerned at my ongoing difficulty in concentrating and thinking straight – one of the many reasons for there being so few posts here lately; I seem to exist in a permanent mental fog – but even though I can’t give you a cogent analysis of what this network seems to offer, I know I feel excitement and inspiration in the idea of the collective power of hundreds of thousands of groups rounds the world (over 100,000 organisations have entries on the Wiser Earth site) all working in different ways to address social justice, poverty, and the environment.

Here’s an extract from Christy’s extract of the Paul Hawken’s words, just to give you a flavour of what I’m rabbiting on about:
“The social justice movement, environmental movement and indigenous movements are intertwining and morphing, and are becoming the largest social movement in the history of the world. They are, in essence, humanity’s immune response to political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation.


“This movement is about ideas, not ideologies. We have to make those ideas better known to the world. This movement claims no special powers. It grows up in small ways, but now we have to become more powerful. Rather than control, it seeks connection and now we must become much better connected to each other. Rather than seeking dominance it strives to disperse concentrations of power, but now we have to aggregate our voices.


“Science now knows that every child while still in diapers exhibits altruistic behavior. It’s hardwired. It’s in our genes. Concern for the well being of others is something we are born with. We become human by helping and working with others, and buried in our genes literally is faith and love. What it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who they are, where they are and joining together to save and restore life on Earth.”

Fine words, but my excitement comes from the possibilities that arise when millions of people around the world act in concert instead of in isolation. Somehow, I feel this is more than just another website. Go; explore those links; find something that lights your fire…

Sunday, April 15, 2007


The picture doesn't do it justice. Sparkle of dew on grass, dappled shadows, radiant silver birch leaves - a beautiful way to start a Sunday morning.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Posting stuff here feels as though it's becoming a futile exercise in trying to keep alive something that died a long time ago. Feels as though; maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I'm going to stop posting just to fill space; there's not a lot of point, is there?

Friday, April 13, 2007

I nearly forgot to breath... 

This is truly amazing; I've never seen skill like it. Watch, and be in awe...

glumbert.com - Master Juggler

Thanks to Earl Mardle via Jon for the link.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What if the bees all vanished? 

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." – Albert Einstein

Fred points to an alarming – yet by no means alarmist – article indicating an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic decline in bee populations on opposite sides of the globe– in some cases 70 percent since late last year.

“Mysterious events in recent months have suddenly made Einstein's apocalyptic vision seem all the more topical. For unknown reasons, bee populations throughout Germany are disappearing - something that is so far only harming beekeepers. But the situation is different in the United States, where bees are dying in such dramatic numbers that the economic consequences could soon be dire. No one knows what is causing the bees to perish, but some experts believe that the large-scale use of genetically modified plants in the US could be a factor.


“Since last November, the US has seen a decline in bee populations so dramatic that it eclipses all previous incidences of mass mortality. Beekeepers on the east coast of the United States complain that they have lost more than 70 percent of their stock since late last year, while the west coast has seen a decline of up to 60 percent.


“Manfred Hederer, the president of the German Beekeepers Association, almost simultaneously reported a 25 percent drop in bee populations throughout Germany. In isolated cases, says Hederer, declines of up to 80 percent have been reported. He speculates that "a particular toxin, some agent with which we are not familiar," is killing the bees.


“One thing is certain: Millions of bees have simply vanished. In most cases, all that's left in the hives are the doomed offspring. But dead bees are nowhere to be found - neither in nor anywhere close to the hives. Diana Cox-Foster, a member of the CCD Working Group, told The Independent that researchers were "extremely alarmed," adding that the crisis "has the potential to devastate the US beekeeping industry."
“It is particularly worrisome, she said, that the bees' death is accompanied by a set of symptoms "which does not seem to match anything in the literature."
“In many cases, scientists have found evidence of almost all known bee viruses in the few surviving bees found in the hives after most have disappeared. Some had five or six infections at the same time and were infested with fungi - a sign, experts say, that the insects' immune system may have collapsed.”

AIDS for bees?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

egg world 

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"...anyone who notices the world must want to save it" 


(for my daughters)

I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,

I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.

~ Rebecca Baggett ~

Today's posting at Panhala

Mental fog 

Will this fog never clear? All around, indistinct outlines hide in the murk; visible, just, yet unidentifiable, no discernable pattern to the shifting, coalescing, diverging shapes moving at the edge of vision. Further afield, all is hidden, and might just as well not exist. Phantoms only, with no substance. Even an inch from my nose – yes, I can see things, but they’re isolated, disconnected from each other and from the wider world, their links dissolving into impenetrable greyness. Grope and stumble as I might, nowhere do I find a break in the mist which wraps its tendrils deeper and deeper into my brain, extinguishing synaptic sparks with its heavy dampness as it goes.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Knack 

This explains a lot...

Did I ever tell you I can (although I very rarely do) put CEng - Chartered Engineer - after my name? And that once upon a time I used to make ham radio gear out of bits of old radios and TVs and stuff?