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A sunshine state of mind

As I turned home on my regular loop walk this morning, I took up the invitation of a park bench drenched in sunshine and the soothing sonics of a nearby fountain. Eyes closed, ears full, it dawned on me that this was the first time I’d paused and truly rested in the last month.

Fixed to the bench a small brass plaque reads:

In memory of Pearl and Jack Attfield who lived in Lee Green and enjoyed this park for over 70 years.

In a month we’ll be gone from this place that has made a comfortable home for five years. I’m grateful that a modern lifetime isn’t confined to a sub 10km radius, but amidst the instability of this life on the move, I need more pauses.

Note to self: Sunshine is the cure (A lesson learned late in life – being raised in The Sunshine State, oblivious to the fact that sunshine wasn’t a given.)

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Oudolf Field

We have wanted to visit Oudolf Field for awhile and last weekend made it happen. During lockdown we’d primed ourselves with Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, but nothing compares to the real thing.

The Oudolf Field is masterfully planted, taking into account colour, shape, texture and height to frame nature as both sculpture and theatrical performance. Time congeals in the garden, as if its entrance is a portal to an over-cranked film. Bodies parade in slow motion to find every vantage point and appreciate every contrast. The best part is that nature takes no pause. I look forward to returning in autumn, winter and spring.

Over the course of his gardening practice, Piet Oudolf has developed an informal, but intricately detailed, approach to planning. Colour and pattern, seemingly haphazard, enables an agility in application. His hand-drawn sketches are beautiful objects in their own right, appealing to any graphic designer that is seduced by intelligent, orderly systems.

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All change

No single word can accurately capture the strangeness of 2020. MR and I have been extremely fortunate that we have, in the scheme of things, been relatively unaffected by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Our jobs – and income – have remained unchanged, and we have a dedicated workspace at home each with a comfortable desk and chair. We have no children that require entertaining or educating, nor any elderly family living locally in need of care. We have had the privilege of access to food, physical space, face masks, hand sanitiser and soap, unlike a large proportion of the developing world.

Despite our privilege, I am weary. In January, scaffolding went up around the Victorian terrace next to ours, ahead of a major reconstruction which gutted the property and added a floor. Aside from two weeks in early April, due to government restrictions on non-essential work, the renovation has charged forward. Hammering, drilling, sanding, sawing, has been the soundtrack of the last six months meaning that almost all of my work video calls have required me muting and briefly unmuting my microphone to contribute to the conversation.

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The afterlife of packaging in the Wild, Wild West

I am currently designing a series of food labels using materials from our sustainable portfolio. The process has been a significant learning curve. I’ve gained in-depth knowledge of specific Avery Dennison products, but also a broader understanding of how to design for sustainability.

Early on I critically assessed every grocery delivery and hoarded the gems of waste packaging like a magpie. An oddity I’d never previously registered is that communicating the afterlife of packaging seems to be something of a Wild, Wild, West. Investigation proves that there are actually considerable regulations governing the information on a food label, though these mostly pertain to human safety and cover usage, storage and consumption.

Environmental health ultimately impacts human health, so it is bewildering that there are no legal standards in place. An example of best practice that does exist, on quite a few of the groceries in my kitchen actually, belongs to Recycle Now – a national campaign supported and funded by the UK Government. This system is clear, consistent and specific, indicating the packaging element (tray, bottle, lid, sleeve, film etc.), substrate (card, plastic, glass, etc.), required action (rinse, remove, separate, etc.) and availability (widely recycled, check local recycling, not yet recycled, etc.).

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Cummings’ cross-country travels

I didn’t anticipate feeling so upset by Dominic Cummings’ recent cross-country travels.

Do I think his actions were unreasonable? No.
Do I think he exhausted all efforts to comply with government policy or remain accountable to the public he serves? No.
Do I think his actions flouted government policy? Yes.
Do I think any member of the general public would be shown the same grace the incumbent government is showing Cummings? No.

Whether the prevailing logic is rationalism or legalism, the same logic must be applied to every citizen. No exceptions. But this is England, a nation where every citizen is not equal.