Friday, September 20, 2013

five year old eco warrior

 This week I got a Facebook message from an old friend about their five year old.

Today J heard the term 'Eco Warrior'. Discussions ensued and you came up.
Here are our questions:

Are you an Eco Warrior?
Why were you living in the trees near Newbury?
Have you got any pictures of it?
Were you scared?
What happened in the end?
How can a 5 year old be an 'Eco Warrior'?

I replied off the top of my head, but people have said nice things about it so I thought I'd post it here too.

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Hi J,

First up, be glad you've got such interesting parents. Most people's are a lot more boring.

Are you an Eco Warrior?

Yes, I think most people would say I was. But I don't like the phrase 'eco warrior' myself, it makes it sound as if people have some magic power or are special in some way, when really it's just ordinary people who care a lot about saving the trees and who have the time to do something about it.

It's sort of like if your dad was very famous for his music, people would call him a rock star but it would seem like he was showing off if he said it about himself. And, worse for him, it would make him seem a bit special and so remote from other people.

I do like the term 'warrior' for the way that it describes a war that is going on, but I don't feel I'm a warrior in that war; the war is between the endlessly greedy people and the one ecosystem that we all need to stay alive.

But in the end, I accept that "eco warrior" is a quick way for people to describe those of us who do that sort of stuff.

Why were you living in the trees near Newbury?

They were going to cut thousands of trees down to build a big new road. We realised that if we went and built treehouses and stayed up in them, they couldn't cut the trees down. At least, not until they'd climbed up and taken us out one by one, which we knew would take them a lot of time.

By making it more of an effort, it meant people planning to do the same thing elsewhere decided not to bother. It also made people ask us what we were doing and we got them to understand our view.

We got them to see that making more roads means cutting down trees and it encourages people to use their cars more, which is very pollluting. Cars are very useful, but we knew there were other, less damaging ways to move people and things around, such as buses and trains.

Have you got any pictures of it?

Yes I have. Have a look in my Facebook pictures at an album called 'Get A Job You Bunch Of Hippy Scum'.

Were you scared?

Sometimes, but not often. I'm a bit of a wuss at being high up, so learning to climb trees didn't come readily. But I knew it would be worth it and I had my friends to encourage me. I expect you've had something similar when climbing up high or going fast, or doing something new and difficult. But you know it'll be worth it afterwards, and that it will be easier next time. It was like that.

Some people might tell you they never get scared; they're lying. Pretending that you have no fear will get you in all sorts of bother, it's much better to realise you're scared and then decide if it's going to be worth doing something anyway. If you know you're not really in danger then you can make yourself get over it.

Having to charge through lines of police and guards to get to trees was scary sometimes, but I knew they wouldn't really hurt me, and much more than that we knew we were right and they were wrong, so that made us all do it anyway, and I'm glad it did.

What happened in the end?

The road got built and thousands of trees were lost, it was too late to stop that. But we convinced lots of people we were right, and most of the other big roads that were planned never got built. There are beautiful places, such as the water meadows near Salisbury, that you can see today only because our work at Newbury made them decide not to build there.

The few trees I was living in weren't in the exact line of the new road, they were next to it. The builders told us that if we saved them the trouble of coming up to get us then they'd let the trees live.

So those four trees, which are a lot older than me and will hopefully outlive us all, are still there because me and my friends lived in them for a few weeks a long time ago.

And on a personal level, doing good things means you meet good people. At Newbury and other camps like it I made some of the best friends I'll ever have.

How can a 5 year old be an 'Eco Warrior'?

There are many places where this stuff is still going on. At the moment a new industry called fracking, where they get polluting gases out of the ground and poison water, is trying to get started, and people are protesting and blocking it just like at Newbury. Some of the old road schemes have been brought back, and people have been in camps at them too.

It's not really possible for you to go and live in the trees but whenever there's a camp they love people coming and visiting for the day, so maybe your mum and dad would take you to one. Knowing that they have the support of so many people who would like to be there but can't - because of jobs or school or whatever - is what makes people in the camps feel like it's really worth it.

But there is a lot you can do that does a lot of the same job - not using too much stuff, respecting nature - in your day to day life. I think spending time in the garden, growing some of your own food (but making sure there's always a little wild corner for the plants and birds and insects to have to themselves) can give you the right spirit that makes you an eco-warrior at heart whether you're living in the trees or not.

It makes us see that there are things we can do to interact with the natural world in a good way, that make us feel like we're making it better but still let us know that we're not in charge, we are part of things much bigger than us that provide us with what we need.

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