The conflict related to the management of street trees in Sheffield, a situation that could be generously summed up thus: The council agreed a huge contract with a huge impersonal company who then went about the process of removing as many street trees as they felt convenient.
The council defended the huge company against the protests of the Sheffield residents, until sanity and reconciliation brought them all together to do things differently. Very differently. And they all lived happily thereafter.
The outcome of this is that now every proposed tree removal is consulted upon, every individual tree. Now this might sound like a burdensome process, how do you have a consultation about individual trees?
Like this; the process is run through a platform called Citizenspace, and it makes it completely easy to manage and to partake in. Have a look at sheffield.citizenspace.com. Amazingly, it’s so user friendly it’s actually enjoyable to explore.
Every consultation is listed, beginning with an introduction, for example, ‘Consultation About Dead Tree on 123 Yorkshire Street’ followed by a few lines of information.
Click through, and it shows a photo of the actual tree, a statement about what’s wrong with it and why it’s considered for removal, and what kind of tree is going to be planted to replace it, and where that replacement will be. Amazing.
Then you can click again to the survey and partake in the consultation by giving your views about the proposal. Amazing, actual technology enabled democracy and transparency of process and outcomes.
It’s a victory for the environment, common sense, correct governance, local people, and the outcome is a process that’s easy for everyone to see and understand. Transparency leads to trust and co-operation and efficiency, it’s a great outcome.
It’s encouraging, because we are now entering a rather delicate time whereby the interests of huge impersonal companies are being defended by governments against the protests of the citizens of Earth and the scientific community.
And the stakes are high, because the longer the process is drawn out, the greater the environmental impact, and the vaster the destruction and unknowable but certain catastrophic consequences will be.
The Sheffield street trees situation could have been settled several years sooner, and it would have saved hundreds of trees, and millions of pounds of Sheffield taxpayers’ money.
In all such situations, denying mistakes prevents solutions from being implemented, and defending mistakes digs the hole ever deeper. It happens time and time again, avoidance of truth and deliberate cover-ups, it’s more than negligence it’s wilful complicity. Yet it must be forgiven at the moment of peacemaking.
Actively defending the corporations destroying the environment is a form of moral corruption at the very least. Yet it must be forgiven at the moment of peacemaking.
The longer we try to avoid change, the greater the change will be forced upon us. I think it’s appropriate, apt, poetic even, that the slower we change, as interconnected civilisations and as a single race, the greater the climatic change will be visited upon us.
The better we are at working together, the more effective we will be.
The conflicts arise when there’s an opposition of interests, and some individuals and organisations have a definite perceived interest in preventing the changes required.
They will want to delay, they will almost certainly resist, they will probably oppose. They will make the situation worse by doing so, then ultimately, sanity and reconciliation will happen.
And they will look back and wonder why they dragged so hard and put so much effort into trying to prevent the creation of a better world. Blessed are the peacemakers.