I had been working 18 years non stop since I left Manchester Met uni in 1995 with a design history degree. My career had been in digital advertising sales, selling space on websites to brands. Some of the stuff I was proud of: The worlds first economic partnership on Flickr for Sainsbury’s, Yahoo UK’s largest day take over, Intel received 80k clicks in one day. Then there was a load of stuff that seamed pointless, pithy, and arduous. The state of the advertising business was one that Richard Sennet, in the Craftsmen, describes so well. Amazon, Dunnhumby, Yahoo! were all companies speaking like they were part of the new paradigm with flat open networks of ideas, chains of reciprocal relationships and expressed as enthralling, and rewarding places to work. In fact they were simply hierarchical companies parading as part of a new paradigm. These places were stuffed to the rafters with managers that loved to look up, or even suck up, to people where the only difference, as far as I could tell, was that they were paid more money than them. Whilst at the same time controlling people ‘below’ them to do tasks couldn’t or didn’t want to do, most of the controlled would begrudgingly complete the tasks without question. This type of behaviour and structure is still prevalent in London business today. People fear for their jobs so they keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves and carry around their bitterness, even when it is important for their lives that they speak up, so many people I know are doing 10 to 12 hour days and then having to continue working through their smart phone at night and at weekends. How is this a life? How is this “working” for? The fear of losing their job is real and apparent and replacement of them is easy, (like an ant colony) if you look at this process economically it sort of works ok, you simply hire someone else from the huge pot of available candidates with less skill and pay them less, although there are 20% to 30% recruitment fees to be paid out and managers therefore spend lots of time interviewing, taking their time away from the job they should be doing. If you look at it in human terms then of course it doesn’t work out at all. People are not meant to be treated like numbers, machines and parts, but they are. If only people treated their colleagues with respect and as a corporation of humans behaved respectfully and supported eachother. The Mondragon co-op is one of Spains largest companies and when companies within the co-op need financial help or are having struggles with their strategy the financial core takes the company under its wing and guides the strategy and supports the people within the co-op, setting them on a new path.
Growing grain is my way of stepping out of the industrialised monocultural anthropocentric world and into a world that is more conscious, more alive and connected. The grain has to be the most honest, as Nature intended, as I can find. It has to be grown with the gentlest of touches and respected for the living being it is. All this is the anthesis of my past life. When at Amazon I was told my manager that he wanted to “punch me in the face, as you are annoying me” during a meeting at head office, at Dunnhumby my boss read every email I sent out, had me change 50% of the slides I was to present and then said things like “helicopter view”.
I am struggling with the processing currently. The grain and straw neatly packs in to my Renault Trafic 2007 van, but it needs to come out and be threshed and winnowed. I then need to mill it and make bread with it…. which is going to be really exciting. This whole process and industry is so much better than selling ad space to people at agencies who didn’t care about you, the product, the environment, just money.