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The Unworthy Tree – a true story

Once upon a time there was a tree. Most people did not notice this tree. One person did notice. Every day before work he would look up at the tree and into the sky beyond and tell if it was raining. He often said to his wife, you know if they take down that tree I won’t be able to find out if it is raining because I can’t hear it on the roof but I can see it against the dark pine tree.

One day his wife discovered the house and section where the tree lived was to be sold for development. She knew her husband would be upset if he found out, so she went immediately to the council to see if the tree could be saved.

When she explained about the tree, they just laughed, saying the tree didn’t measure up, it wasn’t worthy:

It was not native,
It was not special,
It did not qualify as the kind of tree the council would protect

It was not networked and had no connections and so had no power.

Fortunately for the tree, and the local area, she did not give up.

Luckily she lived in a community that was becoming quite well connected. It had gone from being a suburb of people living separate lives in their suburban houses, towards being a connected community with an increasing sense of itself and what it had and what it wanted.

The community had its own media – a community magazine, and an electronic bulletin board which was to develop as an interactive community website. As with the villages of the past, people here still had face-to-face conversations, but now communication was also enhanced by electronic communication.

These electronic communication tools enabled the community to be very well-connected. They now had somewhere they could communicate together around a shared text. Anyone could ask questions like, “Can anyone help?” “Does anyone know …?” There was now space and opportunity for any, or many, to respond where they could and were willing to help.

With respect to the tree and the land it was on, help was sought to save the tree, and the tree became connected to networks of people, like the old-boys’ network only different. This network was more inclusive and diverse – for instance many local people came together to help – local children presented their submission (in the form of pictures), local people who understood council processes gave advice, people with skills, such as inclusive community development, ensured effective participation, local people with skills, such as landscape artists, photographers and writers all helped (STANN March 1996, PDF, 459K).

The council made a decision to save the tree by buying the land for a local park … exactly how they did it is another story, but the tree –

Well, the tree had become connected, and so became worthy.

Here is the tree in the park with its many local friends.

Your comments, or another story?

See The now worthy tree – and some analysis of this process


1 Comment

  1. […] work, click: Screenplay by Martin Howells. Creatively adapted from  The Unworthy Tree – a true story by Hazel Ashton that draws on her MA research (2002). The Unworthy Tree is directed […]

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