June 14th, 2010
Location: Temple Way, behind demolished AXA building, Bristol
(I really aught to get with naming these trees.) It’s really a beautiful one. Not that it’s any less so…seems like the right thing to do. But is that some kind of tradition thing? Or something male? A need to prove my knowledge. Although it could be useful – begin to learn the properties of trees – as someone suggested today. Use this project as an educational tour. Are there trees with medical properties, or…etc. What trees are good for what? What trees make good tree houses, which are the best climbers etc. Probably lots of good reasons to mane them and learn them. And it makes this whole thing more comprehensive. So it was a fitting view from todays tree.
Just earlier I passed one of those things that brings out the Judge Dredd politics in me (the police office in the future – which is now the past – who basically has very little mercy for criminals. You get judged and sentenced there and then on the spot by Dredd. I wasn’t that into the comic, but Stallone did a pretty awful caricature of him. It should have been Clint Eastwood.) So I digress – but when I see a young tree that’s been broken off, or in today’s case pushed over by _ _ _ _ing vandals I get that Judge Dredd feeling – the Eastwood version. Demolition. Maybe it’s our chronic need for more trees, or some strange paternal instinct for the little babies! Think of the children, etc. Or maybe it was that story – I remember the horror my teacher felt over some people who had snapped a whole street of trees in half. An avenue of saplings – with broken necks. I was probably 6 and it just came back to me. Must have made an impression.
So I have fairly militant ideas about trees. If we’re going to live in a punishment based legal system then the punishment for damaging trees should be great. Perhaps it doesn’t work though. Perhaps it’s more about educating or somehow relaying a sense of reverence or sacredness of trees. How can that be done? The reality of trees really being what sustains us is taken for granted – or at least the link between those trees we see around us, those trees that give us oxygen – there is no link. It’s like breaking the ventilator, feeding you gas while you’re lying in hospital…ok, so I’m being melodramatic, but that’s how I feel about it. The building overshadowing this tree housed an insurance company there’s something intriguing about half demolished buildings. I feel like a kid looking [at] a digger – fascinated…all the layers of how it all works revealed as the sides are ripped off. Something apocalyptic about it. A ‘controlled apocalypse’ – managed. The managed apocalypse. Funny. A terrifying thought. It almost feels like that sometimes. Like these multinationals and world leaders are almost facilitating our demise – through incompetence, ignorance or bloody minded stubborn bureaucracy.
So. Insurance. It ties in quite nicely. You can’t insure the planet. It’s not like there’s another planet where, if this one gets buggered once and for all, we can get a new ecosystem from.
So to change the subject. I got chatting to a friend – and got into using the growing of trees as a metaphor for his struggling relationship…a strong tree can survive a storm, the branches – his and hers have been damaged, but the tree can live – the relationship can live, can resurrect…the added it had been chopped down – ‘their tree’. I added, and I heard this years ago – there were telegraph poles that had been set in the ground, tarred, treated, and had despite this re-sprouted roots and leaves – had been determined to live on despite our best efforts, to have them ‘work for us’ to carry our conversations. Amazing! Apparently the soil was volcanic. Highly fertile. My friend added that there were apparently olive wood tables who’s legs had regrown roots in to the ground. Presumably garden furniture. How cool is that! Resilience and hope. Even the furniture can sustain us. The question to ask is – if I climbed onto the table – would it count for climbing a tree.
June 13th, 2010
Location: College Green, Bristol
(Bristol World Naked Bike Ride)
How much do I want to save the planet? I certainly aught to be willing to get my kit off for it. But it seems not. We all have different battles to fight – right? We all fight in different ways, right? So I’m up a tree and peering down at 7/8 semi-naked ladies. Hmmm. Is this where I admit I’m a peeping tom? Well – they were invited there under the tree – for the photo – for you!
These naked riders, these people are doing something. They are the small voices who can see this place could be better, I’m beginning to see them as a resistance movement. Not just the blue Avatars on bicycles but the countless people, groups, individuals around the world who are swimming against the current. Who ‘have a dream’. Avatar had it on the nails head. Amazing that the biggest films since ‘Gone with the wind’, (I made the statistic up) was about corporate abuse of the planet. One has to hope the drip drip effect of those messages will sink in – eventually. The cynic in me is aware of hundreds of films who try to feed us good messages and nothing seems to change. Or perhaps it does. Perhaps Star Wars – was party to educating a generation, and these resistances to the ‘empire’ are it’s legacy?
So those people in blue body paint were some of 200 people to cycles through central Bristol raising the profile of an idea. Sex sells, after all. Surprise and confuse them…the idea being car free Sundays in central Bristol. My dad, as a fairly senior doctor in Norway, managed to push through a new system for how staff’s hours were managed. There was a great deal of resistance to that but he had a vision and the power to try it out. Now – the staff cannot believe they used to do it in the way they did before. That story has had a strong effect on me. Sometimes we need to see another way – on our own – our imagination is too small.
I’m sure people would appreciate and welcome a car free Sunday, if they experienced it. If people were given a glimpse of having their streets lined with trees, tennis courts, gardens, play areas, rope swings, rivers, ponds, band stands and football fields – instead of lined with cars and tarmac – they might welcome that too. We need to see sometimes. The ‘resistance’ need to inspire visionaries in local and central government. The resistance needs to export visionaries into these places of power. And the resistance needs to continue being creative, persevering and grow – keep planting, keep reaching up and out. The resistance is everywhere.
The Avatars should have been in the tree really – would have made more sense – but I had to grab them in a hurry before they set off again. Was done in a rush!
Posted in June 2010
Tagged bristol, change, Climbing, cycling, Dahle, Henrik, naked, philosophy, revolution, trees, uptrees
June 12th, 2010
Location: Queen and King’s Square ( a coincidence), Central Bristol
This is the day when I was hoping to shoot a choir in a tree but that didn’t materialise so instead…
England are playing the USA in the world cup. I thought I might get some great shots of the crowds and big screen. It’s a strange atmosphere. The authorities have fenced off the park so loads of people are not being let in (first come first served). People scream when at 90 minutes of play they open the fence, they rush forward, screaming to get to the screen as if there’s a fire behind them.
The trees in this park are amazing. Huge plane trees, this carnage goes on, and the disparity between this corporate sponsored event populated be drunk people with little imagination and the nature we are part of is arresting. It’s the old ‘how far have we removed ourselves from our roots’. Have we created ourselves, or maybe – unless they do have free will in some mysterious way – like the trees perhaps we have just adapted to our surroundings. Grown into the shape our ‘soil’ has enabled. The old nature / nurture conundrum. This this corporate event has been disappointing. It’s all about being on the take. The event is run to raise the profile of the car company – there’s a motive fueled by shareholder responsibility and it seems everyone here is searching for a thrill. To pack in experiences, under the numbing effect of alcohol, like a theme ride.
So I ramble. I think we are looking for a corporate shared experience – a sense of unity that can’t be created without slowing down and appreciating what is around us. This culture of people – and I speak very generally – have bought whole sale into the oil addiction template. This insatiable appetite by corporations and the plundering of earth resources that goes on is mirrored in the most ignorant of us. It’s mirrored by us all to some extent. I’m not doing nearly enough to respect the environment. I buy stuff all the time that was shipped to me from the other side of the world…etc. How many trees have I planted this year? Zero. We put up with ourselves watching landfills fill up and continue to operate our lives in unsustainable ways as if these aren’t the last days – if we don’t pull out our fingers – our green fingers! War time style. We re-designed out lifestyles and the uses for space and buildings during the Second World War. Gardens become allotments and all that. What about something controversial like planting forests on all football fields. It might make it more interesting – ‘wood footy’ – Forest Football – would make it quite a haphazard game, and it would certainly involve masterful tree climbing to retrieve the ball. Imagine 5 or 6 players scrabbling up the trunk to reach the ball first. Brilliant. Will it come to that? How militant aught we be getting? I read today [that] we’ve destroyed 60% of the globe’s forests! 60%! They won’t come back in a hurry without our help. Maybe every spare inch of available space will need to be reclaimed to grow ‘carbon sinks’. Eating a hamburger that was grazed on ex rainforest land while grunting at the football on a TV (powered by coal) will take a new meaning if you think about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to grunt at the football.
June 11th, 2010
Location: King’s Square, Jamaica St, Bristol
Cherry Tree (?)
Jacob wondered how long it would take to climb every tree in the world. I said you could never achieve it, because there would constantly be new trees and you could never keep up. He said “I know”. (an obvious playful question and bloody obvious answer, with perfunctory come back).
It’s amazing how much more ape like a person looks when reclining comfortably in a tree. Funny to think we probably sent missions of years in trees – and now we barely acknowledge them. Or we use them as dressing for our buildings. Definitely got to build a tree house.
Audio for this climb will follow… Not been transcribed yet.
June 10th, 2010
Location: Cumberland Basin flyover, nr. Rose of Denmark pub, Bristol
Type: Birch / Poplar
My camera is beginning to smell like trees. I like it. So I took the plunge and started the process of sorting out a blog. Up Trees is its name, which if you are reading it will know by now. I’ve resisted it as should I get an audience puts pressure on ‘performing’ – producing something readable and entertaining and enlightening and…etc. Can I be a fountain of wisdom and joy and interest for every tree I climb – for a year. Hmmm. So it potentially ups the stakes – which could make it more interesting or more contrived. We shall see. And my ego doesn’t wish to be shrunk be embarrassing entries.
So – do trees have an ego? It sounds like a stupid question. The trees have been worrying about how they look, what other trees or beings think of them – whether it is status for a tree to have birds roosting in your branches, or the reverse like having an infestation of rats. Whether trees are ageist? Does the ego require free will? In which case – can a tree slowly choose which way to grow? How many leaves to shoot, when to seed? Or go to seed? Where is a trees brain?
Would you feel continually trapped being a tree, stuck? And the patience you’d need. Such a slow existence. Or would you be like a monk – perpetually mediating – experiencing nature all around, day in, day out, wind, rain, seasons, infestation, death, competition for light, drought, human intervention, losing branches or half your self to lightening, or gravity x weight x rot. Putting up with, and enjoying it all. Born with a total acceptance and appreciation of potential and slim likelihood of survival. I’m seeing a tree – in an overgrown wood / between two roads – a flyover or by the sea…etc. It stands there, rooted to the spot but it’s totally calm. It stands, it sits – its back straight up, its legs crossed under the soil, at the neck it’s head and arms are wild and reach upward together – exulting something. The twigs and branches press the leaves out in seasonal rhythm, with no complaints. That’s what I saw in my skull. The straight back / trunk silently pumping nourishment upward. And finally the gift of breath exhaling to feed the world through it’s green giving without questions. Or maybe they stand there feeling excruciatingly frustrated – longing to be chopped down and put out of their misery on a fire. Longing to tear up their roots and run with no hope of every achieving it. Suffering, wheezing, forcing the oxygen out through tiny blocked pores and gasping for more CO². Desperate and trapped…
I recon they love it. They holds hands, play footsie under the ground with each other. Trees are saucy little creatures. Continually aroused by everything : ) See what getting a blog does to writing? Suddenly it comes round to sex… Do trees have sex? Via bees and birds? Does that count as bestiality? Hmmm…. lowering the tone.