Approaching the third anniversary of our birth, growing out of the progressive alliance formed to fight against the UK leaving the EU, Sussex Bylines is embarking on the next stage of our development as a champion of citizen journalism with a new design and logo.
The choice of the round-headed rampion as the image for the new logo was not an easy one. There were lots of other contenders, including the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs, Beachy Head lighthouse, Brighton Pavilion and the Jack and Jill windmills. All, perhaps, more famous and immediately recognisable than a modest little blue flower. It was the talented designer Laura Shelley who worked on our logo, and who first suggested the rampion as best representing all that we aspire to be at Sussex Bylines.
Rampion: pride of Sussex
The round-headed rampion – phyteuma orbiculare – known as the ‘Pride of Sussex’ was chosen as the county flower only as recently as 2007. Widespread across the rest of Europe, it has been virtually eliminated in most areas of a nature-depleted United Kingdom – only in Sussex and the surrounding counties of Hampshire and Wiltshire is it still flourishing on the chalklands of the Downs. Growing up to 50cm tall on a single stem, the globular brilliant blue flower appears at first sight to be a single bloom, when in fact it is made up of numerous smaller ones. As the rampion matures it opens out to reveal multiple tiny flowers, the blue fading into white at the edges, reflective of the summer skies over the turf of the Downs. The rampion has survived in Sussex in spite of rampant over-grazing and creeping urbanisation and is now a protected species on nature reserves across the county.
As a symbol of persistence, inclusivity, and Sussex’s European connections, we felt that the rampion perfectly embodied our progressive and internationalist mission at Sussex Bylines. The myriad flowers that go to make up the single bloom reflect the work of our many volunteer writers, editors and proofreaders without whom we would not exist, and who together have created a successful online paper. Whilst one of the smallest of the Bylines Network titles, Sussex Bylines punches well above its weight in the quality of its articles and the number of its followers. We are immensely proud of what we have achieved in just three years but are certainly not complacent about the challenges ahead. We are always keen to recruit more first-time writers and social media enthusiasts, and we are passionate about providing a space for citizen journalism to flourish.
The modest blue rampion has not only given its name to a wind farm off the coast of Sussex, it has also acquired a species champion in the person of one of the county’s best-known MPs, Caroline Lucas. Speaking about her role Lucas makes the point that so many flowers have been lost to the English countryside as have so many words relating to nature:
“We spend a lot of time thinking about the economic value of nature – but let’s not forget that it has huge social value too. We can’t put a price on the enchantment and wonder of the natural world and the many words that we use to describe it. Plants and wildflowers create some of the most beautiful and striking parts of the UK’s countryside, we must not forget how important they are to our life as a nation.”
Her words reflect the importance that we at Sussex Bylines give to the issues of climate change and environmental degradation through the work of our writers.
Sussex wunt be druv!
Maybe it’s stretching the analogy a little far, but the name Round-Headed Rampion could suggest where the sympathies of Sussex citizens lay in the English Civil War – very definitely with the Roundheads, the Parliamentarians. The sometimes contrarian spirit of Sussex, summed up in the county motto, ‘Sussex wunt be druv’, has produced a healthy suspicion of authority and a strong vein of independent thought over the centuries. It’s no coincidence that Thomas Paine, author of ‘Common Sense’ and ‘The Rights of Man’, a vital contributor to the US Constitution and a defender of the French Revolution, was for some time based in Lewes, home of the Protestant Martyrs
We hope that Sussex Bylines reflects all this in the range and scope of the subjects that we cover, and the diversity of our writers. Coming up to our third anniversary we would like to say an enormous thank you to our supporters and contributors, who have all given their time for free to make Sussex Bylines such a success over the past three years – and, we hope, for many more years to come!
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