Weekly Review Issue no.7
On insects, the importance of using our hands and power tools for reclaiming local politics
Hello! Welcome back to another Review. How is your 2023 going so far? Tired? Me too. Though I did see the slow creep of day light into my afternoon childcare pick-up the other day, so I do get the sense that we have turned the corner finally on the darkness (if not the cold) of winter. I think we’re gonna make it!
This week for me
With all the (supposed) new energy that a New Year brings, I am fully in the camp of taking one’s time when it comes to the enthusiasm of resolutions/goals/ambitions for the year. We’ve got a whole year, right? 1 February, or Imbolc, is my new milestone for New Year.
That said, I am glad to say that I’ve kicked off my reading again - A goal for me this year is to read 2 books a month - which would be an incredible improvement of the 0.0 books a month I read last year. I don’t think I actually read a single book (online articles, tweet threads, long form pieces don’t count for this…) so I’ll be adding quick notes on each book I come across. Consider them very, very abbreviated Good Read reviews, and the first is included in this issue.
Onto the links!
Research on the edges
Nature is just eroding away very slowly,” Wagner said. As insects disappear, “we’re losing the limbs and the twigs of the tree of life. We’re tearing it apart. And we’re leaving behind a very simplified and ugly tree.
Steel yourself for this one a bit, its grim reading. But essential. We mustn’t turn from these stories. Thankfully Reuters have done a beautiful job of bringing the story alive - literally - with ants and other insects playing around the article, alongside some elegant information design.
Curiosity is the intrinsically-motivated process of exploring and learning. The more you experiment and explore, the more you learn about yourself and your capabilities; and the more you know about yourself and your capabilities, the more you’re willing to experiment and explore.
If you’re trying something new for this year, or in general doing new things, not being very confident can be such a barrier to making things stick or work out long term. I thought this piece by Emily Purcell was a good reminder on what you can do about when you lack confidence.
I am not saying, ‘Oh wouldn’t it be nice if we all made handicrafts again’. I am saying: a primal cultural inheritance of goodness has been stolen and colonised by the Machine and barely anyone has noticed, and even those that do, such as this eminent surgeon, do not realise the all-pervasive ill effects of the disembodied life hyper-modernity wills for us.
A wonderful musing on the effect of modernity on our hands, the things that made us who we are. Just how deep does it go within us when we do things with our hands, and what have we inadvertently lost?
Short-term Existential Group Therapy (EGP) intervention could be effective in helping patients relieve their existential distress. Some of the treatment effects were maintained a month after the end of the intervention. The program led to cognitive changes in daily life and life purposes. Such changes may help to improve the Quality of Life (QOL).
Keeping on the veins of research around existential therapy, I thought this was an interesting piece of research. The key follow-up is finding ways for the positive impact to be sustained…
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📖 What I’m reading
Flatpack Democracy by Peter Macfayden. Peter was a new pal I made on the incredible New Constellations programme in 2022. When we met we orbited around our shared work around death and dying (Peter works, amongst other things, as a funeral director in Frome). But was previously the Mayor of Frome and Independent councillor. He gave me this when we visited Frome late last year.
I first learned about Frome - both as a place and like, a place - through Julian Abel and Compassionate Communities that trialled their model in the small Somerset town. George Monbiot wrote about it in 2018. Peter and his colleagues enabled that to happen, amongst much much more. I think the mental image of Frome is something like a bit of a hippy-ish country town, pretty middle class, pretty white, a wee bit radical. That’s all true. But I think the idea that they just decided to take power into their own hands, is something that any community could and should do.
He wrote his experience of taking control of the town council in this short book. I have no intention of getting into politics, but Peter makes it really, really feasible to do so. The main takeaway - which I think is a universal one was:
…if you are going to do it, do it well, have ridiculously high aspirations and have fun.
A good guide for a good life I think!
You can read more about Flatpack Democracy here.
I re-discovered this album this week. I first heard it about 12 years ago while working with John Morgan. I can’t say I know much about jazz, but this is a very easy to listen to album and can be quite transportive at times. I also can’t help but chuckle at Keith’s odd wee ‘uuh!’ and ‘aah’s’ when he jams away on the piano at certain points (you may need headphones to catch them).
🤔 Last thought
See you next time. Thanks for reading 🙌🏻
“We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”