The general awfulness that went with this year’s birthday has fortunately passed. I hope I don’t have another day like that again. Thank you hormones…there were a few notable exceptions such as H’s impeccably timed gift.
I have been pursuing my creative endeavours as a bulwark or a counterpoint to the general unsatisfactoriness of my daily life. Continuing to embroider, and I have started an introduction to floristry class.
Let me say at the outset that floristry is like ballet. It looks effortless, elegant and exquisite, but there is so much work behind the beauty. People may baulk at the high cost of flowers, but forget the skill of the florist. Like many creative artists, florists are poorly paid and work long hours. On the other hand, I had a quick peek on seek the other day only to find out that a senior florist earns the same amount as I do with a PhD. Clearly the world is skewiff.
At my class this week my instructor was a little late because she’d been up to Sydney to take her certificate students to the flower markets. Cymbidiums from New Zealand. Roses from Kenya. Australian natives from Israel! It sounded like everything was imported, so I went digging.
What I found was truly disturbing. In recent decades large swathes of cut flower production have been set up in South America and Africa to lower costs. This has been done at the expense of worker health and conditions. Some of the case studies I read were chilling, and every bit as Dickensian as Manchester’s mills. Long hours, miserable pay, exposure to toxic chemicals, child labour, summary dismissal. I don’t see why a woman in Colombia should risk miscarriage or the possibility of birth defects just so we can have red roses for Valentine’s Day.
I don’t know about you but I think this is unacceptable. The subtitle for this blog is about kindness, gentleness and beauty. Nothing of what I read about the economics of the flower industry is in accordance with that. In fact, its a complete affront to everything I hold dear. No idea currently about how to make a contribution to improving that, except through writing this and continuing to source as many of my flowers as possible from the growers at my local farmers market. I won’t be able to do that for class. Next week is poppies. Poppies, a spring flower at the beginning of winter.