A sermon given by an LGBTQ woman talking about people living on the margins of a society deeply touched me at the end of last year. She was describing how God created margins right at the beginning. He created Day and Night. It was not a sharp break between the two, but the sun rose and set, and they manifest his glory in that place.
God created the land and the sea, the rivers, and the dry land. There, too, are the shorelines. Mostly beaches between the sea and the landmass, where a great variety of sea life lives. It is also where we find the detritus of human wastage thrown up. The swamps are neither one thing nor another and host their own ecosystem. When God had finished creating, He said it was good, meaning perfect.
I later attended a Map Society meeting where the lecturer spoke about Map Margins. This was quite illuminating, all the information in the margins. There can be cross-sections, comparisons, latitudes, longitudes, so much other information to help interpret the map before you.
I decided to choose ‘margins’ as my word for the year. As a metaphor, I could see it had great potential, so I started to explore different types of margins, and I hope to share my discoveries with you throughout the year.
Some of the other margins’ I thought I would explore are the white space given on a page to stop the type from running off the page and make the text easier to read. There are often notes or references put in this space once again to help in understanding the text better. We often scribble on the edges of the page or make notes there to help us remember a thought or idea that we wanted to record.
The pavements or sidewalks are the boundaries between the buildings and the road in the city. A lot of life goes on in those spaces, so many things to explore there. The street people who live in that margin are literally ‘marginalized.’
There are margins in nature, between climate zones, and the tops of mountains where they touch the sky when the cloud or mist hovers over them. Is that where we get the saying having your head in the clouds, for someone not thinking quite like us? There are leaves framed on the edge where the color changes or the pigmentation is missing. Some people are marginalized because of the pigment or lack of pigments in their skin. A lot of scope to explore here!
Hard and Soft Margins
You will see margins as you drive along the highway. There are verges on each side of the road. Some are hard, like concrete walls, and some are soft, like grass verges and shrubs. Do we set up hard edges that make it difficult for some people to be part of society, or do we have soft edges where it is easy for them to transition across? There are fences to keep pedestrians safe but also to keep people out.
Margins for Error
There is leeway in transitioning through time zones. Probably one of the more challenging to navigate when traveling and trying to communicate with other people not in your time zone. Do you allow for the margin of error when trying to connect? The dictionary defines margins for error as ‘an amount (usually small) that is allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances.’ A space that can be navigated safely to help us transition from one state to another. Do we give people that space when they are trying to transition?
Tramlines, railroads, and airfields also have perimeters so that people are kept safe from transportation’s high speed and movement. They are safe within the vehicle but not close to the outside of it. How can we make safe places for people living in these dangerous margins? Plenty to explore in these margins, figuratively and metaphorically.
There are also the profit margins that keep a business from going bankrupt. This needs to be had to be wide enough to pay the debts and salaries and some over to provide for future maintenance, expansion, or a drop in sales to keep a business running in the long term. Are business profit margins preventing people from having their own ‘profit margin,’ keeping them in debt and unable to care for their families?
Do we allow ourselves sufficient margins of time to have rest and cope with emergencies? Or is every spare minute full of something?
I have only started to explore this concept of margins, and I hope to work this theme into my artwork and writing throughout the year. So if you want to come on this journey with me, please make sure you sign up for my newsletter.