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I’ve just got back home from posting another weather collection kit out to a volunteer. It took longer than expected. When I got to my local post office I found that it was closed: furniture and racks piled up in front of the counter and the signs taken from the front of the building and strewn around on the street. I’m not sure if this closure was a result of the looting, or whether the post office had decided to close that branch as a result of poor business. Anyway, I shuffled in front of the poster giving the location of the next closest branches along with all the other frustrated people. Despite the extra weight it would mean carrying on the journey, I took the opportunity to buy some food. Although the next post office is in a more populated area, I couldn’t be sure they would have any stocks in the supermarket there so I stocked up while I had the chance. I really miss fresh tomatoes. The trek to the next post office was not fun. As I said, this area is more populated, but somehow that always serves to make me more nervous. The lady there quizzed me about the contents of the packet and how much it was worth. At one point it seemed like she wasn’t going to let me send it… This is why I have joined a new group called The New Pony Express (NPE). For the weatherproject to continue, we must find a way to reliably transport physical items. Not just locally, but across international borders too (in as much as that phrase has any meaning any more). Apparently there are some seed distributors who are also facing similar problems. Suzanne from the NPE has raised this question do you think weather samples might contain biological entities that would be restricted from leaving certain countries? The antiReDS virus, for instance. The answer is that they might do. I just don’t know. As well as the risk of any airborne viruses or bacteria, volunteers often send rain/snow samples or sometimes even plants. I never open a jar once it has been returned to me and even seal them all with wax to help prevent against any accidental openings, but the risk is still there and I doubt if customs got involved they’d believe me that I wasn’t trying to smuggle contagions across boundaries. To a certain extent, this has always been an issue. I’ve at least one sample of weather in my collection from near a SARS outbreak location from back in around 2005. The weatherproject has always relied on a degree of trust between the people involved and I’ve been fortunate so far in that I’ve been able to rely on the community around the project. Nowadays I’m already specifying that people don’t send samples from ReDS zones, but is that enough? I don’t want to have to put too many restrictions on the project because I feel it compromises its artistic merit. Maybe in the situation we find ourselves in today I should stop regarding it as an art project?

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