Where we are and where we can be.


April has been the cruellest month. The tick tock drill of locks and keys, keys and locks has, momentarily, become a vital sign in our daily lives; a terrible beat. Data, data, data is our current fandango. PPE and R seem dominate in a locked down vocabulary. Tests and targets are an alliteration that breaks our hearts. Refrains of ‘living in a digital world’ are cognitive itches for all of us. The great leveller is proving to be less level than we thought; quelle surprise. We are now asked to be ‘alert’; well yes, it is a pandemic.




The air is cleaner. The noise of us has reduced. Nature has given us an awesome spring. Our streets are filled with a sense of renewed ownership. Our public service workers are seen as essential and are valued more than they have been for many years. The local has become a place to explore and to move around on bike and foot. Our streets are much chalked with games and imaginings. Our front windows have become places of solidarity as children and adults scribe rainbows and messages. Bears are placed on the window sills for children to go on a bear hunt. Lampposts have phone number tied to them to phone if you need help. Boxes of books have been placed on the street for people to help themselves and to swap for other readings if they want to. Millions of texts have been written to neighbours asking if they need anything from the shops. Whilst I know this pandemic has and will continue to be terrible there has been a kind of kick back from communities; freely given exchanges of care.


In this digital expression I want to share previous works that explore what we value, want and desire. I also want to share a few ‘Dear Nature’ letters that are, in some ways, influenced by listening to people about the possibility of common values and the necessity of forming a better relationship with the earth that we live on. I do believe that we can develop or, perhaps regain, ecologies of value that review our relationship to the environment we share. Such reviews can help in driving our social, economic and political realities; they can lead to renewed possibilities. Such possibilities will never be easy to fold into our daily lives but it is worth trying.


The blog does not pretend to give any concrete aggregate for better living but hopes that it may give some ideas to others. In some ways it is a sharing of uncertainty but that, I believe, is what we need right now as we reflect on where we are.

John Newling

Common Values

Newling investigates what we ‘value’ the most in everyday life, interacting with shoppers and passer by’s at Broadmarsh Shopping centre, Nottingham in January 2013. This collection of 398 responses have been used to make this work, constructed originally as part of the Ecologies of Value exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary. This is the first time it has been exhibited online.

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Dear Nature

[Letter 78 from 81]

Releasing on the 26th June 2020

Click here to read more

Dear Nature

[Letter 22 from 81]

Releasing on the 3rd July 2020

Dear Nature

[Letter 76 from 81]

Releasing on the 10th July 2020

York Text

On July 28th, 2014 in St Helens Square, York 206 collected texts from people passing through the square were read back to the place where the texts were gathered. The texts were responses by people on the subject of a 21st Century Eden. The text was, in many ways, a response to what we want. The event only exists as a film and this is the first time the texts are being shared online.

Releasing on the 17th July 2020

Dear Nature

[Letter 29 from 81]

Releasing on the 24th July 2020

Dear Nature

[Letter 32 from 81]

Releasing on the 31st July 2020

Dear Nature

[Letter 26 from 81]

Releasing on the 7th July 2020