4 min read

N.96 / Beautiful things grow out of s*#t.

THIS WEEK → Pastoral Life ⊗ Text Decoder ⊗ Wooden Skyscrapers ⊗ Puffer crop circles
N.96 / Beautiful things grow out of s*#t.

As a self confessed waste-o-file, I’ve always had an obsession with what we waste, why we do it and how it shows what we value in this day and age. The most obvious and practical marker for me has always been regarding food waste and the simple practise of composting.

Something that we could all do, yet for reasons known and unknown it seems beneath some of us as a practise or ritual in our day to day. I find this baffling, since each of us in some way is a metaphorical compost heap, as we gather experiences, artefacts and objects into a rich tapestry that in turn makes up our lives.

Yet, the cool thing about a compost heap is that you can add whatever natural matter you want to it (depending on your heap). As the author Ann Patchett waxes about her writing life:

“Everything I interact with, every experience I’ve had, gets shoveled onto the heap where it eventually mulches down, is digested and excreted by worms, and rots. It’s from that rich, dark humus, the combination of what you encountered, what you know and what you’ve forgotten, that ideas start to grow.”

The other fortuitous thing about throwing stuff on your own compost heap – the matter doesn’t need to be pure, or perfect. In fact, it can be this very rough and rugged beginning that allows some beautiful things start to grow, as Brian Eno once offered:

"Beautiful things grow out of shit. Nobody ever believes that. Everyone thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head—they somehow appeared there and formed in his head—and all he had to do was write them down and they would be manifest to the world. But what I think is so interesting, and would really be a lesson that everybody should learn, is that things come out of nothing. Things evolve out of nothing. You know, the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest. And then the most promising seed in the wrong situation turns into nothing. I think this would be important for people to understand, because it gives people confidence in their own lives to know that’s how things work."


What sort of hotel is this?

HELLO, I’m Sammy Haywood and you’ve signed up for the Making Hay: Whilst The Sun Still Shines a weekly newsletter, which primarily features a curious, creative, and considered look at the world in internet form.

Below you’ll find an instalment of the newsletter, which contains a variety of items, some of them with a bit of additional commentary from me, and a closing note.

As always there is a one click unsubscribe at the bottom.

Read on. Share promiscuously.

Cool Tools

Seeing Pastoralism

Global Lessons From the Margins

The stories and images on this website explore how pastoralists understand, experience and respond to uncertainty. They draw on six very different places around the world where pastoralists are living and working in often variable and uncertain conditions (View).

Text Decoder

Just the punctuation

Here is one way I used to analyze my own writing that is fun, somewhat useful, and very pretty. It’s a web tool that removes all the letters of your text and leaves only the punctuation. You get a skeleton pattern of your hints and nudges in a block of symbols. Devised by Wired writer Clive Thompson, this small tool is best used after reading Thompson’s short explanation, What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation. (View).

Explore The Curiosity

Isn’t it good, Swedish plywood: the miraculous eco-town with a 20-storey wooden skyscraper

Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian | 14th October 2021

“We are not the wood Taliban,” says Bo Wikström, from Skellefteå’s tourism agency, as he leads a group of visitors on a “wood safari” of its buildings. “Other materials are allowed.” But why build in anything else – when you’re surrounded by 480,000 hectares of forest?

If you are wondering what a climate-conscious future looks like, small subarctic Skellefteå may offer some ideas with wooden schools, bridges, even car parks (and even the world’s tallest wooden building) (Read).

Pufferfish 'crop circles'

BBC Earth | Youtube | 20th November 2014

The Japanese Puffer Fish is probably nature's greatest artist, despite looking a little dull on the outside. Thus, to grab a female’s attention the male creates something that defies belief (View).

The Contemplation Station

No matter the self-conceited importance of our labours we are all compost for worlds we cannot yet imagine.
– David Whyte, On Ambition from Consolations

Thanks for your time, energy and presence in making it all the way to the bottom.

Spelling mistakes, glaring omissions, furious rants or grudging tips of the hat, I welcome it all.

Till next time,


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Making Hay: Whilst The Sun Shines
A optimistic newsletter helping you to get curious and think critically each Monday.

The office is located in East Melbourne, Victoria, the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. I acknowledge that the culture showcased here owes the roots of its theory and practice to traditional and Indigenous knowledges, from all over the world.

We all stand on the shoulders of many ancestors – as we learn, and re-learn, these skills and concepts. We pay our deepest respects and give our heartfelt thanks to these knowledge-keepers, both past, present and projected.⁠

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