I’m sometimes amused at how people’s view of me is manipulated by how I describe my job : ‘ social enterprise CEO’, is dynamic and interesting, Landscape Architect, is creative and interesting, sustainability consultant sciencey and interesting, but if I want them to start scanning the room for someone with more potential, I say ‘school gardener’.
Why is it that ‘hands dirty’ jobs are considered not only unclean, but worse than that, boring? One of my tasks this morning has been fixing wheelbarrow tyres : this has involved dismantling, diagnosing, fixing and reassembling : a problem solving job : mental and physical, and yes, my hands are absolutely filthy. The last time the barrow wheel needed fixing was on a community day, and I asked an estate agent, who was one of our lovely corporate helpers that day, to go down to the ironmongers to get a new inner tube for the wheel. When he returned, pleased as punch, with the still punctured inner tube still in the wheel, but carrying it in the whole new wheelbarrow he had bought, I didn’t have the heart to make him take it back.
In that garden, we have two wheelbarrows we are using as planters, the one the estate agent took the wheel off, and two, including the new one, that we actually use as wheelbarrows.
My journey from ‘designer’ to ‘gardener’ has been from the purely hypothetical to the practical : I ‘designed’ what a space would look like : without getting too involved with those who would use it or maintain it. The ‘end’ of these projects were the end of construction phase pictures : what happened after that was really not my concern.
I have been talking this week to a group of children planning to design a garden space in their playground : I gave each of them a survey task : notice all the living things / look at the surrounding structures / make a list of plants / measure the dimensions / find the hot and cool spots / and while trying to hold back their teacher, who is more gung-ho than any of them to get designing, and never mind what’s good about the site already, I have been thinking about where the line is, between who is a designer and who is not.
In terms of gardening, anyone who has in their hand a packet of seeds, is making design decisions : as Wikipedia defines design as
a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints;
translated : I am going to plant a seed, here, that will grow and provide food/flowers/nectar/joy.