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In 2013, Boyan Slat began to question the large volumes of plastic accumulating in our oceans and why no one was doing anything to clean it up. At 16 years old, he began research into potential solutions to effectively recover and remove it

How will we clean our windows?

A story about change and adaptation

newspaperThe past had with it an environment of experiences, which created memories. But this environment as we know it changes, whether we like it or not and whether it is perceived to be for the better or not.

Media, and the channels which it uses to communicate our important stories as business and community, have changed, and will continue to change. They will not simply sustain in the specific channels they exist in for eternity….but will re-generate and change.

Individuals and Business will go through this reinvention, much in the same way that the newspaper has become overtaken by electronic media such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

I grew up on a farm outside of a small village called Kwa-Mbonambi, in Zululand, where we learnt from our parents that using what we have around us, is what is best.  There was no need to waste, or look to over complicate things. So we learnt to value what was part of our daily lives, one of which is the newspaper…….but was this really sustainable? Or did we need to re-invent ways to clean the windows?

So I introduce our treasured “newspaper”, or rather multi-purpose window cleaner as we originally viewed it as. You see, the daily newspaper – the firm property of our beloved father – was always there to be read by Dad in his own time. If we had ventured to sneak a look at any part of it, we needed to be sure that it was always left in its original state of presentation……something not exactly possible if you are one of 3 brothers where dirt was seen as a body part, and not an additive to your skin (talk about being one with the environment)!

It is important to remember that at that time, the newspaper was one of the few forms of media communication, along with the wireless (these days commonly referred to as radio), television and the odd telegram. This though did not “sustain”, or stay the same…….very few things in life do. With the technological developments taking place on a daily basis, things in the world of electronic media started to gain traction, and make significant progress.

This advancement then supported the needs of the fast pace of today’s world, by bringing the world closer to many. We could now access information so much quicker, something the lovely aunties and mothers of our village community particularly enjoyed, as it allowed for the gossip circle to move so much quicker. And with that we suddenly became so much more informed, and able to learn and understand issues which were previously far from our reach. We had not simply “sustained” our lives, but were re-generating into a more informed and technologically advanced society.

With this advancement came some new phrases, and had I have listed a few below, with a corresponding understanding of what they would have meant in the “newspaper” days:

  • Facebook – Would have meant one of Dad’s hardcover novels, which had the picture of the authors face on it
  • Twitter – either the noise the birds made outside our window before 05:00 each morning, or the loving description of Uncle Norman Lundy…..the local mechanic
  • LinkedIn – pretty much any of the farm tools which needed to be linked together in a chain
  • WhatsApp – the colloquial greeting shouted across the fir tree road by one of the 6 aunts or uncles, 11 cousins, or multitude of daily friends visiting on a day

But suffice to say, at some point us sons got hold of the newspaper. It was either Alex (eldest boet*) who would and could read the entire paper and retain virtually all he read, Don (youngest boet) who was similar to Alex, but enjoyed the cartoons, or I (middle boet), who confined my attention to the sports page and on the odd occurrence anything vaguely resembling excitement on the front page……follow up stories of Natal Rugby Union (Banana Boys as they were know before being called the Sharks) winning their first Currie Cup title in 1990 against Naas Botha’s Blue Bulls, would be such an example!

Well much like a small pack of “manners challenged” hyenas, the paper did not stand a chance once we got into our grubby paws on it.  In some cases the paper became the symbol of power, as we all wrestled for it, and there were days when three little boys were seen tearing around after each-other, trying to keep the sections of the paper each wanted…..only for it to be torn to shreds…..leaving our dear Mother with a frown and look of exasperation at what we could achieve.

But the paper served its role from a knowledge transfer perspective…….the ability to measure the retention was not an issue. Now you ask yourself….where is this blog going?

Our beloved newspaper was actually so much more than the offering of knowledge….you see even before recycling / upcycling / re-use were common practices in our daily lives…..we (and many others) were already re-using our beloved newspaper to perform a number of other functions, namely:

  • Dispenser of wisdom
  • Develop Children’s’ “over the shoulder peeping” techniques
  • Weapon for chasing off naughty dogs
  • Starting fires
  • Cleaning windows

So now I ask you, with the evolution of print media to electronic media, what will be the impact on our lives? How will we be able to go about our daily lives without the beloved newspaper….what will we use to chase off the naughty dogs, or start our fires?

My thoughts are thus not about sadness or regret that an object of my up-brining may one day be gone. Rather it is about remembering the value and growth it has brought to me, and being aware that as times change, we need to be ready to adapt. It is therefore not simply about being able to sustain the way life was and is………but rather be ready to re-generate and find new ways to meet the challenges of today and be prepared for the opportunities of tomorrow

I ask you……what will you use to clean your windows?

Blog by: Angus Ryan

* “boet” = South African word for brother

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