THE REPORT TO HEART OFFICE

HERBERT IS A COMMUNITY ELDER

THERE WAS AN OLD PIRATE OF NOTE
OF LOVE AND DIRE PLUNDER HE WROTE
WHILE FROM ISLAND TO ISLAND
FROM YOURLAND, YES TO MYLAND,
HIS HEART WAS THE BEST BOAT AFLOAT.

HIS STEADY HAND STEERED STORMY SEAS
AND LOVINGLY EMBRACED EVERY BREEZE
DREAMING DREAMS OUT ALOUD
RARELY DRAWING A CROWD
ALWAYS PINING HIS FAVOURITE SQUEEZE.

THAT PINEAPPLE PRINCESS FIRST LOST
TO DARKLING DOUBTS STORM TOSSED
IS ONCE MORE BY CHANCE
HIS PARTNER IN THE DANCE;
‘TIL TIME’S EBON OCEAN IS CROSSED.

QUICK QUICK SLOW

The Story So Far#1

Integrating Goals

Herbert – The Dill in the community salad is loyal to the expectations of His Princess Mistress. Despite being 8 hours by fast plane  away from her and never likely to be in the  same space without  some  major surgery to prevailing and shared values – he  considers her  ‘expectations’ of him the context in which he now works and lives – and creates. She is his Muse.(He’s married?) Resurrected from  a shared past and revitalized by new media they now have a virtual relationship with all the  same  assumptions of respect, sharing and transparency that two lucky people in the same space might require of each other to sustain a relationship.
Herbert has given up smoking cigars and his pipe. She has committed (crossed her legs hope to die) to staying alive  long enough for them to have a honeymoon in real space.  To share the Blue Bed – A tribal ritual of inner suburban Melbourne – a celebration of survival. A Lover’s C’mas. Maybe in April May or even September October? Soon.

Herbert has also given up the immediacy of his own family and joined his life with that of the larger family of  community in Kuching.The just ended Design Week Rediscovery is one outcome of this new third life collaboration.

Herbert lives in (West) Kuching Sarawak in a house owned by JB, a lawyer. He inherited the right to Christine’s Island from CH, an academic colleague and long time resident of Kuching whose life and academic work is centred in this sweet place. She lives in Melbourne and returns to Sarawak on her fieldwork for her Phd.
Herbert works for a local branch office of the University he previously worked for in that other place – Melbourne – where his children ASW and JSW live and work . And his partner of 30 years KS paces waiting for Herbert’s return, with bloody protein or news of his demise.

In 2010 Herbert unnecessarily involved himself in a pitch for an academic conference.

READ ME : SARAWAK JUNE 17 2010 (ANNOTATED GOOD FRIDAY 2011)

To: David Lancashire ~ Chair: INDIGO ICOGRADA

David ~

Not sure what you would want – but If I was arguing for a conference location with all its amenities of a global standard ~ but one which also challenges participants to reflect on design and it’s practice in a place ­where the magnificent fragility of the environment and human culture are a back drop ~ where nature is an overt and ever present phenomena in the city (3- 4 metres of rain 22 >32 C pa – rainforest + mould ) where multi-culturism has been an ongoing successful experiment for centuries (3-4 languages in common use and English a required language ) ~ where traditional rainforest born crafts are fast approaching a possibly terminal intersection with technology and modernity~where a local vernacular graphic design and language evolves spontaneously and vigorously alongside/despite global marketing strategies ~ where superb indigenous architecture is lost in time and the forest ~ where the clouds are an engrossing narrative ~ where eating is a pleasure to be enjoyed in public ~ where orangutang are considered citizen ~ where tattoos are indigenous where the people are so nice ~ where Islam is the ‘state’ religion but evangelical Christianity roams free and beer is generally ok 

Sarawak is A Good Place.

Kuching is also strikingly beautiful – to this traveller – small – an invention of necessity not empire – 600,00 people – everything within walking or affordable taxi ride distance – including the beach – the mountains. After 10 weeks in Sarawak I know it is a place to hold onto – An island that time didn’t forget but to a large extent allowed it to remain a pretty manageable micro version of the world – where all the human experiments – successful and unsuccessful from neolithic onward have happened and at many levels are continuing to happen parallel with the unselfconscious uptake – not the invasion of modernity.

best regards

AFW

 

The  pitch was successful not because of Herbert’s overly romantic presentation but rather the single minded focused, and pragmatic leadership of his then pro vice chancellor HL. Not a buddy but someone with recognizable leadership credentials.

Two years later the conference has just finished. Herbert got the acknowledgement he deserved from the people who he believed he was advantaging with his effort. He learned an awful lot about the world outside Sarawak which he didn’t know he knew, and many more wonderful things about the place and the people that have made him feel welcome and of use. Herbert is an all day sucker for a kind word. Having long since lost the ability to differentiate the good and the bad in his own actions he relies on others to tell him what’s good and bad in what he does.

Your work is so beautiful…in some ways you are the Charles Conder and Matisse of Australian graphic design :-)

Thank you so much athenaoz.

It looks like humility here on the ground. Like stupidity where he comes from. He has also learned along the way much about the detail of what he likes and dislikes in his fellow human.

In the two years, Herbert’s role as one guiding elder (of several) supporting local people in meeting the global expectation has found conflict with external and personal agendas being imposed. Allegorically/mythologically the global organization has imploded under the artificiality of it’s own structure. Hubris.  Olympus comes tumbling down. The business model and the .org philosophy don’t go naturally together. Idealism doesn’t go with sustainability? Unless it is the ideal. There is in retrospect logically more congruence between serving the common good, and educational models that perhaps don’t include the highly rationalized contemporary free enterprise university paradigm. A bit more of the School of Athens less of what’s in it for us.Perhaps what universities used to be like.

The Design Week website defines the week known as REDISCOVERY. It also lays out the conflicting agendas that were between the lines.

A conflict between the confused but significant INDIGO values and the ICOGRADA global role for design. Can a global organization best manage a local enterprise? Having worked for a multinational for 8 years I have to say yes – in theory – but at the cost of culture if  it tries too hard. Given that culture is what is the basket case in this neck of the now non existent woods – softly softly below the surface should have been the strategy from the outset . An agreed single minded strategy not multiple group and individual expectations. A shared understanding of the complex cultural and political differentiation in advance would have been useful. To have engaged with the location by other than remote means that missed the  imperative of respecting country.

There were some really beautiful moments in the week for Herbert. He’ll write about them between the lines in the immediate future. And some ugly ones. He’ll do his best to forget those or resolve whether they’re his problem and he needs to work it out for himself. Elders like Herbert have lived a lot, experienced a lot. Doesn’t mean they’re perfect.

At the end of the day (week) it is crystal clear to Herbert that the INDIGO brand needs leadership, not an unproductive level playing field consensus illusion that eats up energy delivering very little in terms of clear direction.
Herbert’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to work/pro bono for a global organization (however noble it’s professed objectives) and the adjustment to his mindset that would entail. Head office rhetoric makes him grumpy because of its futility without threat of penalty for non compliance. Autonomy has increasingly become a near sacred definer of his shrinking place in the world. And Empire (intellectual, academic or commercial) is in immediate conflict with the community values he would now live by, to keep his glide path elevated for as long as possible, in these years to come. Autonomy on the scale of culture is what exists in this sweet place. It may be screwy and corrupt but it is ours.And then there’s government.

Left to his stream of consciousness Herbert is experiencing a sense of imminent invasion as he writes. Not dissimilar to the one he experienced when Martin Sorrell bought Ogilvy and Mather and J.Walter Thompson in one week and in person broke down both agencies’ imperatives in local content(culture). A new David Ogilvy he was not. Globalism was empiure and  he  was the emperor. He wasn’t going  to last long in that environment. He didn’t want to. Herb had already decided to move his family circus back to his hometown but now post Design Week that same sense of impending loss of autonomy  is getting him a bit agitated. Just when we’re building a highly motivating moment, and  the local is advantaging its own future culture, an emerging global hegemony of  homogenizing do-gooders rears its pious head. I’m naturally paranoid around success, but Thailand today is victim to the benign corruption of ‘productivity’. More! As is Herbert’s beautiful sad Prahran.

All the organization for the conference was really done by others who were distracted at times by confusing objectives from off shore. In the end the local content, and its relevance  was supported and embellished by people like DL, HL and even the two Futurebrand presentations.

News of the demise of INDIGO is greatly exaggerated.

Herbert’s students were there smiling at him making him feel good. There were two students of Herbert’s from his (life)time in Melbourne. His boss colleague Helmut was encouraging and has committed to the ongoing project INDIGO(without ICOGRADA). It needs leadership. Herbert likes leadership. There is a strong, mature cartel of common interest forming and consolidating locally that could  lead the project away from  an academic model into a pragmatic integrated model that includes but isn’t dominated by too vigorous academic or practice or business engagement.

Boring!Boring!Boring!
But enough words for tonight. I’ll work on Herbert’s text -needs some laughs a few pictures, and spend some time with the other Tony tomorrow to catch up on the sexy interactive bits over the last week. The 30 year old Honduran Mother of two Volley Ball Player. The African American Warrior Princess.  The Japanese Princess with samurai helmet hair and a French passport. Some interesting conversations with old men. A minority group in all activities. Dozens of conversations with the community’s young, local and nearby including two who were Herbert’ charges in faraway Prahran. The proprietorship with which Herbert’s students insisted he get into the group photos. The extent that despite everything Herbert feels even more at home here than he did before.

Herbert’s job was to stay interested in this thing happening and keeping people motivated, for two years. The university dropped out at the first year. His own motivation took a beating. But by simply being consistently grumpy, people seemed to stay motivated. Local loyalty to the project was highly focussed and really strong. Facilitation was achieved by a very few individuals working very hard, who rightly will continue to be celebrated for what they achieved. The larger local business community need to know the story. They may have had trouble understanding the significance of all that was happening – Whatever – so did he –so did we, but in the end it made sense. Herbert did good. Everyone did good. Now to protect that sense of place achieved from invasion. A plan for the long day after is needed that is sustainable, affordable and longterm. Herbert’s working  on it with a  little help from his mad twin brother.

Trust him/them
He/they love you

2 Responses to “THE REPORT TO HEART OFFICE”

  1. athenaoz Says:

    Wow, what a massive experience you have had. Thank God I checked out your blog…and you write very well. I recognised Russell K there also. Two years is a long time and yet like most things, after long planning,they suddenly disappear. So you’re coming back to Melbourne? All best, EG x

    • anthonyfward Says:

      Melbourne only for January. Then back for 2013.Turn 7O next June . It is a good country for Old Men . Looking to shape an INDIGO network from what’s on Borneo. Or open a Guest House For Old Persons that isn’t in Castlemaine… or Daylesford. Hubris AthenaOz ! – AFW

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