Apparently in the past month, several trees have been chopped down on our Sede Boqer campus. A neighbor of mine organized a meeting to discuss this. I was unsure about going. While I do not want trees cut down, I was not sure that it was an issue that merited mass efforts in contra. Nevertheless, I attended the meeting to understand why my neighbor found it important.
It seems that while it may not be strictly necessary to cut down the trees, if they are in the path of a truck, it may just be easier for the construction workers to cut down the tree. With no public outcry, no one was forced to consider this. While the administration representative told us that trees are important to him, he is very busy and surely has no wish to micromanage the grounds crew.
Our first action was to write names for each tree in an area where we believe construction is imminent, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, with a notice asking not to cut down the tree. The names were removed the following day.
I believe that no trees have been cut down since the first meeting, but another meeting was held last night. There was a discussion about solutions, and the organizers said that their ideal is that a committee would be formed, consisting of members from various disciplines, to decide the fate of each tree whose demise might be suggested. Today some participants met with the administration, and will be allowed to see plans. And the administration today had a value of each tree written in at approximately $2000 on their contracts.
This struggle is beginning only now. And someone came up with an interesting idea--that of transforming the gardens on our campus into a botanical garden representing native plants. I love that idea.
While this may not be a standout issue, it is important in our community. It has been interesting to see the way that two meetings have energized a small group of people, and caused innovative solutions to be thought up. We are lucky in that we live and study in a very ecologically aware campus, so the administration ultimately does support these issues, as does the local community.