Story of phasm 05


Completing the project in June I returned to Cardiff but was unable to capitalise on the report, which had yet to be published, and given the difficulties in Selby I was similarly unable to get a reference from STC. To make matters worse Enviros were the darlings of WRAP and their monopoly on the research work and the influence they consequently had on the industry made it impossible for me to secure further contracts. By protecting my work I had similarly prevented myself from getting more. It might have been summer in Cardiff but for Phasm it was turning into winter.

I used the time constructively, building the web site by creating pages and guides for would be composters. I also begun to work on and design a new educational project, the Phasm Science Garden. With the advent of the national curriculum teachers were now required to teach children about the natural world and for many teachers this was as new to them as it was to the children. Even teaches with some background in the natural sciences would struggle without the right resources.

The Phasm Science Garden was designed to address this by providing a purpose built resource backed up by comprehensive documentation and teaching resources. As well as being a physical tool the concept would have a complete computer package and on-line content that would make it the most complete and comprehensive tool available. However I needed funding and despite there being a plethora of agencies in south Wales which claim to offer National or European sponsored assistance, often backed up by expensive poster and TV ads, as a white heterosexual able bodied male with no dependents in my mid 30’s I failed to qualify for assistance from any. So the idea slowly became shelved. Again I took the precaution of registering the design with the Design and Patents Office so that the idea was at least protected until such time as funds to develop it become available.

It was similarly dawning on me that without funds it was pointless pursuing ideas that needed an initial cash injection. For no idea, no matter how good, can generate investment cash from thin air so I needed to either concentrate on raising/saving cash or pursue ideas that didn’t need a cash injection.

In this respect one industry stands out, writing. As a way to make money it has the greatest returns potential relative to the capital investment: a typewriter. So I toyed with the idea and eventually came up with a concept. I knew or guessed that writing a completely original work was more difficult than reviewing a previous piece; better I thought to write about another and their work than to write my own original piece.

With this in mind one person stood out, Shewell-Cooper. A prolific garden writer and journalist Shewell-Cooper had been a household name from before WWII and right into the 1970’s. His career as a writer spanned 4 decades and had resulted in over 60 publications, 100’s of articles and regular radio spots, but now he was disappearing into obscurity. It was a shame as Shewell-Cooper wrote well and produced excellent practical garden books. His writing style, driven by his religious convictions and belief in education was concise and informative. It told you what you needed to know in the simplest of terms; so was difficult to improve upon. He was also an advocate of the humus theory and the benefits of composting.

On the basis of this I came up with the concept of the 3R’s of Shewell-Cooper; Re-visited, Revised and Remembered. I contacted the Good Gardeners Association, an organisation he founded in the 1960’s to float the idea and later visited the co-coordinator, Matt Adams. It was a productive visit and as a gesture of goodwill I agreed to write a couple of small pamphlets on aspects of soil fertility for the organisation. Once drafted I emailed copies for approval and after having no feed back for several weeks I made inquires only to learn that he had found them too technical and could I dumb them down for the members.

next: about phasm 06

Shewell-Cooper Good Gardeners Association

Design and Patents Office

Free Cultural Works (CC-BY-NC-SA) Malcolm McEwen 2011

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