“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
In 2004, in the small town of Nexø (above), on the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea, a curious figure is handing out small packages to strangers in the high street. The young woman is dressed in orange, water-resistant clothes that are dirty, smelly and oversized.
Some people accept the proffered package with interest. Others seem doubtful.
Most of them thank the strangely-dressed women politely.
When they open the package, their reaction is one of surprise, and often silence.
The package contains a single, delicately wrapped, fish
I’ve never forgotten that encounter, which happened in 2004.
Nexo is one of dozens of Baltic and European fishing ports where industrial fishing has become unsustainable, and group of creative people had come to Bornholm for a service design project.
They had been asked to explore the question: “when traditional industries disappear from a locality, what is to take their place?”
A bunch of great design and business ideas were duly presented by the group But what stuck in my mind – for all these years, until now – was not a product, or a plan – but a powerful emotion associated with that fish event.
I was struck then, and still feel now, that respect for the life of the individual fish was what really mattered. The notion of a fish as a mere commodity, as resource for the economy, suddenly – and still feels – unnatural.