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Protest Treehouses
Sarah Rich, 23 Feb 06

Maynard_WC.jpg The vigilant protection of endangered forests represents an enduring legacy of environmental activism, from the Chipko movement in India in the early 70s to Julia Butterfly Hill's long sit in the redwoods. Few things deter a logger from felling a tree more effectively than a protester clinging fiercely to its trunk. Except maybe a protest structure that clings to three trunks at once.

On top of being a wildly inventive architect, Andrew Maynard - whose prefabs have been widely lauded for their astounding multiplicity and brilliant design - turns out to be a cleverly scheming activist. Maynard's Global Rescue Station fastens semi-permanently to the body of three trees, promising not only to shelter and protect protestors during their demonstration, but to take out anything beneath or around it if a logger dares to cut down its supports.

A native of Australia, Maynard's Global Rescue Station initially emerged in the midst of opposition to clearcutting in Tasmania's Styx Valley Forest. The first iteration consisted of two platforms roped into the canopy of a single gum tree (affectionately named Gandalf). Maynard has since advanced his protest design strategy to create the concept for GRS Generation 2, which uses far more refined methods and materials to create a bi-level shelter replete with solar panels and sleeping quarters. Those Earth Firsters might be wishing they'd had Mr. Maynard in their posse a few years backĀ…

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An off-topic comment.

This may annoy some readers here but I've always been skeptical of Earth First. Their tree sitting events back in the 1980's did generate much needed publicity but, what kind of lasting legal and economic protections were enacted from these events?

Radicalism occasionally has it's place but Earth First always seemed a marginal group to me. It never became the transformative movement like the civil rights struggle of the 50's and 60's. It never moved the political center or appealed the general public.

Grandstanding is one thing but, I think to enact real change, you have to go to the meetings of the powerful and have extensive proposals and plans to discuss. You have to be prepared for the long, exhausting process of political change and, yes, compromise. You've got to negotiate. It's boring and frustrating but that's how the lasting changes get made in the end. That's been true since Sargon's time.

Posted by: Pace Arko on 23 Feb 06

This is an interesting idea and I'm sure that he will get some kind of upper-crust lefty recognition, but it completely ignores the whole tactical idea of a treesit:
you have to put it up without anyone seeing or catching you

it also completely ignores the history of treesitting, which is a pacifist answer to the practice of treespiking, which can harm loggers. any time you are actually attempting to destroy things with your structure, you miss the point of putting your life on the line up there in the first place.

it is of course besides the point to mention that the great majority of people doing this are homeless kids with no resources other than an email address and a thumb. and that the sit has to constantly be resupplied, so that people can eat and pass down their shit. the logging companies are not permitted by law to endanger anyone by cutting down trees while civilians are around, but sometimes individuals will come and harass the sits. Because of this, it is usually better to NOT have the sit be an obvious and easy to find structure.

the more you make this into a comfortable, fashionable thing to do for literate young professionals, the less power it will have, as Julia Butterfly Hill and Greenpeace and the rest of the media chumps have found.

the whole point of direct action is that some things are non-negotiable.

Posted by: Ben Hunt on 23 Feb 06

Getting back on the subject, and apologies for the derail (I think I agree with Ben on how treesitting should be done, if it must be done.), this temporary treehouse could be very, very useful for park rangers and canopy biologists.

Posted by: Pace Arko on 23 Feb 06

i hope he consults an arborist before getting much further on these because those attachment points look like a sure way to girdle the cambium layer and kill the tree.

Posted by: dug on 24 Feb 06



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