“When everyone is hungry and waiting – when things need doing urgently and the clock is ticking – it’s often wiser to get cooking and present a ready-made dish they’ll find tasty to eat rather than getting everyone involved in deciding on the recipe.”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru
It’s becoming very clear, given trees are so vital to the healthy life of the planet and to human wellbeing, that we should be actively recruiting and training an army of people across the nation to ensure planting, protection and on-going tree care happens to a consistently good standard on a significant scale.
In order to achieve this many things have to change, from our inclination to verbally endorse the importance of trees yet fail to put policies in place to reflect that, to our habituated reliance on academic education as a marker of value in the recruitment process. We should all be deeply troubled at how many young people emerge from our out-dated education system not only without practical work skills but having assimilated the idea that such practical skills are of lesser value than essay-writing.
Of course we do need good researchers, people for whom ‘The Knowledge’ in a particular subject is their stock in trade. But we also desperately need a whole new raft of people ready and able to apply that knowledge to some real world problems with a down-to-earth, lets-get-this-sorted attitude.
We’ve all had the set-the-world-to-rights conversations down the pub, haven’t we? But generally speaking, when it comes to making a practical start, when it comes down to defining the critical handful of things that can be undertaken to make a difference right now, and when it comes to identifying how best to undertake them to be sure we succeed, there’s a gaping void of inaction. What we need are motivated, capable people taking action, purposefully, in specific directions. What we need to do is break down the barriers between education and participation so that it’s possible to get stuck in, learn on the job and find both inner satisfaction and appropriate remuneration while doing so.
We can theorize till the cows come home or until the end of the world – which may come sooner than we think. But no amount of chatter is going to take us where we need to go. For real positive change to happen we need not only to inspire hearts and minds but to productively employ capable heads and hands. And we need to do it now.