And thus the seeds of the Asparagus Revolution were sown. I thought, why limit our gardening activities to planting only food for our bodies, why not plant asparagus for the soul? Why not invest ourselves in our communities and workplaces despite of and because of our short term tenure.
So on Tuesday the 19th of May, 2015, I put on the cap of revolutionary and led the charge. I marched into the office and shouted “Ladies! Today is the day we plant asparagus. Viva la revolution!”
And so we did. We took ourselves out to coffee and strategised. We returned to the office and spent the day shaking things up. Desks were moved, bookshelves were dusted, papers were chucked and dignity was reclaimed! We may not be given these things by those who manage us, but we can give them to ourselves.
I want to explain that this revolution was in part triggered because I told my friend Andrew that I felt trapped and unable to use my skills. I said “All I need is a part time job, something to anchor me, so that I can then do the community building I do by stealth”. He looked at me, peering beyond the tears and said, very gently, “Millie, maybe you’ve been given what you asked for”.
He said, “Maybe this is it, it’s just really fucking hard”.
And he was right. I needed to step up. I needed to commit to my workplace. I mean, how long had I been suffering the indignity of the horrid taste of cheap teabags refusing to unpack my extra-special place making tea pot? I honestly thought that the dissatisfaction I felt at work would contaminate my tea pot, momentarily forgetting it's powers are stronger than that.
For so long I harboured resentment against the university and its dysfunction. My resentment and frustration came from the fear that if I can be strong enough to resist and to exist with integrity then the university wins, they get the best of me and their abusive institution benefits. But then I realised, so what? If the university really gets the benefit of me being here, if they really notice what I do, it means that I win. Or maybe the next tenant will be nourished by the crop I plant.
Long live the Asparagus Revolution.