Crisis artist Jack joined in with Marmalade 2021 – he tells us how it went.

Today there is more in the air around Christ Church Meadow than just the spring pollen. Today, the paths are full of people walking in pairs, in deep conversation. These people have been matched to walk and talk together as part of Marmalade, an annual event hosted by the Old Fire Station that brings people together to speak about people, power and place.

I took part in two conversations as part of Marmalade, both discussing the question: ‘how can we work in less hierarchical ways?’

In my first pair we spoke about hierarchical systems and where they are needed in society. Right off the bat we concluded that hierarchy can sometimes be something natural – it is in the seasons and heavenly bodies that govern us. But is it natural that all life takes part in hierarchies? What role does ego and capitalism play in fuelling hierarchy and our economical and societal standing? We thought that while hierarchy is a natural thing, what’s unnatural is the effort to control it by any means, usually for self-gain.

My second partner and I discussed the need for alternative models, and examples of how things can be done differently.

Somebody will always be better at something than someone else, so a hierarchy of sorts will always exist. What matters is how those people use their skills, and their place in the hierarchy. Should they use it to dictate, and control others (a negative hierarchy) or to help others, and build a good hierarchy?

We walked through the meadow in search of conclusions, and as we approached the end of the river, our conversations reached a natural end as well. Hierarchical systems should be like the seasons, structured yet malleable. They should be like the sun, lighting up the world. Let nature be your hierarchy.