The Hanging Gardens of Walkerville

I haven’t been in the most chipper of moods lately. To be honest, I’ve been feeling quite cynical and disillusioned. But the cloud is lifting – it always does – and there have been been a few rays of sunshine this week. The biggest was a little bit of CSI work I got involved with, through the company I work for.

We have this campaign on the go at the moment about “sustainable growth” and how we are all about building better futures and making positive change. There’s been much publicity internally and externally about the various CSI initiatives we are involved in.

The growth thing began with a tiny little box placed on each of our desks with a plant kit inside. After staring at it for a few days, I finally delegated the planting of the seeds to Claire. We were overjoyed when our little Swiss Chard finally sprouted a teensy Swiss Chardling! Now if only I could remember to water the damn thing!

Plants are so not my thing… I could probably find a way to kill a plastic plant if I tried!

Last week we were invited to watch Bongani Bingwa, of Carte Blanche fame, interview one of our CSI partners. We were also invited to participate in a mystery CSI project during the course of this week. I, being the corporate good sport I am, stuck my hand in the air for the mystery project.

The person that Bongani interviewed was an amazingly inspirational woman named Nonhlanhla Joye and her story is just incredible. And while what she does is seriously clever, it involves gardening. Did I mention that gardening is not my thing?

So guess what the mystery project was?  Gardening, obvs! We were building Mama Joye’s raised food gardens in various underprivileged areas around Jozi.

Yay… I guess.

So off I went to Walkerville with a bunch of colleagues who I barely knew, brimming with fake enthusiasm and trying to ignore the fact that I’m now too fat for my purple volunteer t-shirt ignore the sniffly cold I’d developed overnight.

Well nothing like a bit of charity work put things in perspective, right? Right!

The garden-making was pretty cool. The concept really is very clever:

All we really had to do was hang recycled, soil filled bags on the wooden frames and then plant seedlings in each. I hardly even got a dirty hand.

We finished by giving each newly planted seedling a drink of water to bed it down properly. For that part, we had assistance from some little kids from a local care centre. These kids have very recently tragically lost a fellow learner in a road accident and they are going through a very sad time. The sadness was almost palpable.

But whilst they were sad, they were also incredibly sweet and earnest and enthusiastic and they were the highlight of my day! For a while I forgot all my un-chipper nonsense.

We showed them what to do and each child dutifully filled their beakers with water and took turns at watering each bag. Ok, so some seedlings got more water than others – but all is fair in love and gardening. One of the guys who was busy building the frames assured me that once they make the holes in the bags for drainage, the lettuce would be just fine.

I really needed this afternoon of simple innocence to gain some perspective. And I’m almost convinced that I could manage an Umgibe veggie garden in my backyard… almost.

Check out Mama Joye’s website here.

And speaking of websites… I have exciting news about my blog changes. I’m one step closer to the big reveal. Watch this space 😉

The Art of Asking – an audio-book review of sorts

I was driving to work one morning this this week, fighting my way through rain, traffic, potholes, broken traffic lights and taxi drivers while listening to the ever more depressing Zupta-gate news and I could literally feel my mood getting blacker and blacker. I really like being relatively well informed and knowing what’s going on in the world so I tend to listen to quite a bit of talk radio, but sometimes it all just gets a bit too much. So I switched to my iPod and the first song on shuffle happened to be an Amanda Palmer song, which reminded me that I needed to write this post. 

Side note: I’m so very tired of the drama and the traffic. Thank goodness it’s very nearly time for my holiday! Maybe it’s time to bury my head in the sand for a bit. Maybe it’s even time to do a bit of a social media unplug (gasp!) while I’m on holiday next week?  

Anyways, back to my black mood. I’ve had this feeling before – where talk radio just gets too heavy. And the music radio is just inane crap. And Apple Music is eating my mobile data. I decided to download Audible and try out listening to Audiobooks while I drive. 

But what to choose to listen to with that generous free first month credit? I investigated my options as only I (the great overthinker) could do and eventually settled on The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. This book was a suggestion from my singing, songwriting, piano and ukelele playing friend Nicole. 

  
Nicole introduced me to Amanda Palmer a few years ago. Nic is a massive Amanda Palmer fan.  I’m hardly an audiophile but I did become a minor fan after doing some listening. I liked her quirky story songs but that was about as far as it went.

So a bit about Amanda, in case you’re not familiar with her. She’s also a singing, songwriting, piano and ukelele playing artist. She had made a living from standing on a crate as a living statue, as well as busking, amongst other insane and awesome things. A few years ago, after kicking her commercial music production company to the kerb, she funded an album entirely with a massive and recordbreakingly successful   kickstarter campaign.  She currently funds her art via a website called Patreon. Her music is a mix of indie, alternative, punk and caberet but she is so much more than a musician – she embodies art. 

The minute I started listening to Amanda telling her story, I was hooked. She narrates the book and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She welcomed me in to her artsy world with arms wide open. I have always secretly wished to live some sort of eccentric, bohemian artist’s life so for the few days that she was my companion during my commute, I lived vicariously through her. 

When I initially downloaded the book, I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of her story. People were talking on Twitter about how the book had changed their lives. I’ve witnessed a massive change in Nicole which she attributes to the book. But for me? I mean,  I’m not practicing my art much. I am a salaried employee of a big corporate, there’s not much busking involved. 

But I really did get so much out of it.

The book was inspiring and delightful and has reminded me never to lose faith in the goodness of people and just… Love.  And to try to live fearlessly. 

I also had loads of insight about myself and my creativity. And living my life, whatever the circumstances, as a manifestation of my inner creative spirit. 

I feel like I need to listen to the book a few more times to gain everything there is to gain from the book. And to go back into my imaginary bohemian world. 

If you’re keen to find out a little more, I highly recommend watching her TED talk.

My only regret is that my obsession is so new.  She  visited South Africa last year and I missed her Ninja gig here in Jozi. 

If you’ve read or have listened to The Art of Asking, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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