Recently Michaela has been untertaking a course with the brilliant Design Trust, intended to help us develop new skills around making our website more effective because, after all, this online selling thing is a brand new world for us. She was both surprised and pleased that the course first encouraged participants look at what their ‘core values’ were.
In some ways, this was an easy question for us because everything we have tried to do with seatree has been driven by our values. These are things we have thought and talked around for such a long time, and in fact we started our small business as a direct attempt to enact these values. Even so, listing them again has become an important thing. A statement of continued intent perhaps, or just a reminder to ourselves that the reason we do things and the way we do things MATTER.
So, here they are. We hope some of them have been communicated to those of you who have had contact with seatree;
Meaning – We want what we make to have depth and value, with simple images and beautiful poetry that communicate things that matter.
Integrity – standing by what we believe, being honest and upfront with you, sticking with what we do and not being motivated by short term profit
Uniqueness – we only use Chris’s poetry and every piece we make is unique, a one-off, being handmade and not wanting to churn out endless copies.
Connection – we have always sought to work with others, promote others, learn from others , whether that is other artists, galleries, new potters and new poets. We know the value of being encouraged and of encouraging others in turn.
Community – we have one another but we also love to connect with a wider community, and to build collaborations and exchanges with other creative people.
Sustainability – we want to live in such a way that does as little damage to our planet as possible. This means making choices to live more simply, to consume less and to invest our resources in ways that always push towards creating less carbon and less waste.
So, how is this going for us?
Writing this list gives us a way of reviewing our progress, and doing an inventory as to where we are up to with our values.
Meaning – We are still pushing forward with this. The challenge of course is that this comes up against our other value – Uniqueness. Most creative people will know that our creative juices ebb and flow. Sometimes it is hard to do the craft… Nevertheless, we are determined to continue to follow what we believe to be a spiritual path, defined as a continued search for deeper meaning.
In terms of Community and Connection, Michaela and Chris differ slightly in approach! Chris is much more introverted, and often has to be kicked towards connections by the much more out going Michaela. Nevertheless, even during lockdown these values have been operationalised by seatree, for example by running free workshops with clay and poetry during the local community festival, sending out wee gifts during the lockdown if we see someone struggling, creating the ‘workshops in a tin’ so we can share the clay and creativity with others again, taking part in the ‘secret regatta’ exhibition with the Tig Gallery community, connecting and sharing with our social media world – hoping to pass on some encouragement and love (just as others do for us.)
Finally, in terms of Sustainability, we continue to try to live simply and in connection to the natural world around us. Lockdown has made this even more acute, as it has stripped away a lot of activities that we had previously thought ‘normal’, but only now realise that they were never were. We continue to grow more food and have established more outdoor growing areas alongside our two poly tunnels. We have also been learning a lot about foraging wild food from the fields, forest and hedgerows- a particular success being the use of a dehydrator to dry all sorts of things for herbal teas. (This has also been brilliant for seaweeds and wild garlic.)
But our environmental impact is still greater than we are happy with. Our kiln is electric, and even though we use our car less than ever, we rely on deliveries both for materials and to send things out to you. We have tried to find ways of making our packaging as low impact as we can, but at present this has meant gathering recycled bubble wrap etc from all our friends and re-using it alongside greener materials.
Values are important. How else do we become what we hope to be? How might our kids avoid our mistakes?
It seems appropiate to finish with a lock-down poem. Chris was thinking about change in the early days of lockdown, and trying to imagine a world in which we break our dependency (in the western world at least) on over consumption and turbo capitalism. He had read somewhere that we only change because of two great imperatives- love and suffering. However, lockdown (the great silence) seemed to have added a third.
in the old way of thinking, change
comes only through Great Love, or
Great Suffering – but both are hard, both
will break us apart, if we let them
then (like third part of trinity) came
the Great Silence.