Ready to go back to Work

Ready to go back to work?

Well that’s been a great Christmas. For me, peaceful, nourishing, quiet – a most appropriate end to a tumultuous year. A year in which so many of my creative heroes have fallen and one in which voters in the UK and the States made choices I would not have made.

That said, what lies ahead excites me immensely.

In June 2016 communities near where I live voted overwhelmingly to leave the european union. Many of these communities are barely surviving and if they are it is largely a result of funds that have come from Europe. Yet disenfranchisement, disappointment, unfulfilled promises and short term policies have left them angry. They see pressure on services increasing as populations grow. They can see no viable future, for themselves or their young. There’s a kind of systemic depression, medicated by pharmaceuticals and state-aid.

So the anger has been expressed, for now, and the decision has been made. And communities will have to start finding their own way, unaided, or unhindered, by the hand of Europe.

But as is seen elsewhere in the development sector – it is time for a change of approach.

Communities that survive on hand-outs serve to fulfil one thing in the future – The continued out-stretch of the hand that receives.

The futures for communities currently dependent on European funding are now very unclear. But as the Chinese politician Li Keqiang put it: “Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress.”

It is likely to be a challenging road that lies ahead for the former industrial valleys of South Wales. But in that challenge will come the need to innovate and to look beyond government for stability, hope and comfort.

What will come is a new story – a reworking of the influences of history that made these valley communities the engine house of the industrial revolution and allowed their peoples to stand strong and proud.

Among the many stories of development we will be telling at Griot Creative this year will be the one that sees radical thinking back at the top of the agenda. Thinking that has created so many ground-breaking, world-leading innovations and policies from Wales. We will see Welsh passion, Welsh creativity, Welsh work-ethic leading a new industrial revolution. A revolution that is resilient in its heart, sustainable in its mind.

A revolution that puts the people first.

At Griot Creative we believe we are the sum of the stories we tell about ourselves. From our new offices in Wales we hope to create a new narrative. A narrative our grandchildren can share, with their grandchildren, about how Wales rose to the combined challenges of economic uncertainty and global warming to once again become the engine room of an industrial revolution – this time built out of cooperation and community, for the good of the people who live here and those who come to join them.

 

Barefoot Beach Run Blog

Barefoot beach-run blog:

 

“What a lot of one-legged swimmers there must be in the sea” – the absurd thought, breaks from my subconscious, nearly making me stumble as it clatters against the wall of my conscious mind.

 

“How are YOOOOOOOU?” – filters through the flotsam that lines the shore as a pick my way through the soft sand and washed up trainers that ribbon the high-tide mark at sundown.

 

I’m the only Mazungu (white guy) mad enough to be out running in the late afternoon sun, along the beach North of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

 

“How are YOOOOU?” –  the greeting comes again – I haven’t the breath to answer. (I’m running in nearly 30 degrees, when all said and done) but I manage a wave and broad, if slightly manic, grin!

 

I have started the year in somber mood… musing over  ‘lack’ – of time, clients, clients who pay (on time), parents, siblings (having lost them all in recent years).

 

Then I shoe-horn myself into running shorts and scamper along the sand, as the heat drops to 27 degrees and the sun burns golden across the Indian Ocean.

 

Along the beach, just above the crashing surf is “the Perfect Spot” café, where the fishermen gather to broaden their smiles over a beer, while the children tumble from shanty-shacks to play on the sand. Chinese sewn football strips declare allegiance to Manchester United, Arsenal and the Messi kit of Barcelona.

 

When they see me their looks, at first, are confused, defensive. But the smiles will not be held-back. I trust the laughter is of kinship, not directed at my knock-kneed stride, reddening face and aged shorts.

 

The golden hour is as wonderful here as I have seen it elsewhere on this ocean. The working day is done, the trials of hauling nets, taking in laundry, learning in school, forgotten. There is nothing to be done now (right now) but play.

 

As I pick my barefoot way through washed-up coconut fronds, between the fleet of beached, bleached dug-out dhows and the toe-nail borrowing ‘jiggers’ who live in the tide-line, my shoulders drop.

 

Once again I am shown the wisdom of Africa – all we have is golden time, all we have is now, all we have is all we have – why waste a moment in wishing it otherwise. Just Smile!