Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 220
It was four in the afternoon when I got a call from the media asking what was happening out here. “Nothing unusual,” I said. “Are you sure? Take a look around.” I started to feel anxious, as I stepped out from under my tarp and peered over the edge, not knowing what I would find. All I could see was a bright red bag on the ground.
“People are putting up on Twitter that there are pro-logging demonstrators at the base of your tree. They are saying you’re not even in the tree.” Well, they hadn’t even called out to me, I thought. Or if they had tried I hadn’t heard it above the roar of the wind in the trees.
By now I was feeling a bit stressed, as I couldn’t even see anyone down there, but the Twitter reports sounded like it was going to be bad. My phone started ringing non-stop.
I took a moment to assess the situation.
“Co-eee” I called out. A man called back. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he had come to spend some time at the base of my tree. I then asked if he had been the one putting messages on Twitter about being at the bottom of my tree. Apparently not. “Do you know who has then?” He said no.
My phone was still running hot. People were calling me from everywhere; the media, concerned supporters, my family, as the rumors had began to spread that I was being surrounded by pro-logging demonstrators. I was still feeling very anxious. The media reports and Twitter messages seemed to contradict what I was observing. But I didn’t know what to believe. Was the tree suddenly about to be ambushed by a big mob?
My one new neighbour made himself at home, setting up a tent near the base of the tree. I called out and asked him how long he was staying for. “A few days,” he replied. We had a short chat, trying to yell out above the sound of the wind whipping through the trees. I discovered that he intended to stay until Saturday and then be replaced by another person. Their intention was to raise their concerns about the IGA process.
This is an interesting situation. The media asked me, “How does it feel to be a protester and now have someone protesting you?”. But it doesn’t really seem like that. Because he isn’t really here to protest against me. In some ways you could even say that he is here to protest with me. We both have concerns about the direction of the forest industry, albeit from very different perspectives. And we both have concerns about what the IGA may or may not deliver. And so it seems, in a very unlikely situation, that in my struggle to protect Tasmania I have been joined by a pro-logging farmer!
Once I had reassured family, friends, supporters and the media that I was okay and it was just one person having a cup of tea at the bottom of the tree, the frenzy began to die down. However, one thing that those few hours really showed me was how much support and concern there is out there for me. The amount of messages I instantly received via facebook, email and phone was overwhelming. It really showed me that the whole world is watching and that so many people care about me and support what I am doing. Thank you to everyone who contacted me.
That night rain beat down on my tarp and I thought about my new ground dweller. I wondered how he was feeling about his first night in this forest. I wondered if it was as cold and wet and windy down there in the tent as it was up here. How would the experience of this few days beneath my tree might influence his perspective of me and of this forest?
And so it has been two days now that I have had a new neighbouring protestor. He has left today and been replaced by someone else. I’m not sure how long they intend to stay for, but it seems like they are not going to be here quiet as long as me! My support team on the ground have been engaged in friendly discussions with them, listening to their points of view and sharing their own.
A few journalists asked me if I felt angry or worried about the situation. The truth is that it doesn’t bother me that he was there. I think he has every right to have his point of view, to make a stand for what he believes in, just as I do. This is a critical time for Tasmania and many people have concerns about the state of the forestry industry. And I think that we might even find that we have things in common. Because I have concerns about the future of communities and workers too.
And this is why I believe that change is critical in the forestry industry. The deeper the industry entrenches itself in the controversial destruction of high conservation value forests, then the greater the problems, not only for the environment but for the industry itself. There is no economic stability in the global market place for an industry that is built on the lies of Ta Ann and the destruction of forests. I truly believe that there is a solution to the current crisis, a solution that will protect Tasmania’s environment and provide support for communities and workers in a sustainable industry. This is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. As the industry cannot continue as it is today.
There cannot be a solution to the crisis that doesn’t involve forest protection because the destruction of forests and the resulting controversial wood supply is at the heart of the issue.
I am more than willing to discuss ideas about the future of the forest industry and consider a range of opinions from different sides. I think it is so important to be open to a diversity of ideas, to take time to listen and consider all points of view. I have always taken this very seriously. After all the discussions I have ever had about this issue, however, one thing always remains, the fact that these forests are critically important for the future of endangered species, water quality, air quality, climate and ecological diversity and hence our quality of life. These forests need protection.
And I am staying up here until that happens.