Extinction Rebellion tree splits opinion in Kettering

Kettering's Extinction Rebellion group collected messages from the public on a tree this weekend
Kettering's Extinction Rebellion group collected messages from the public on a tree this weekend

People in Kettering town centre were invited to write messages on the 'leaves' of a tree put up by Extinction Rebellion (XR) members in town this Saturday (October 5).

The tree, named the XRTREE, was put up by the clock in Kettering town centre and members of the public wrote messages about the climate emergency on recycled fabric leaves that were attached to branches made from reclaimed wood and bamboo poles.

The group's use of chalk met mixed reaction online

The group's use of chalk met mixed reaction online

Dez Dell, 40, a local XR activist and Green Party member said: "The day was a beautiful experience with fantastic engagement from kids as well as adults.

"It really shows that local people care about the environment and the planet and there is an appetite for real change to address the Climate Crisis."

The tree was adorned with over 100 leaves with messages written by children and adults of all ages.

One message read: "Less ignorance, protect our children's future. Education!"

Adrian Watts said he will be participating in the national protests

Adrian Watts said he will be participating in the national protests

Other messages made suggestions, like one that said: "Please put in good cycle routes and put back the trees."

Extinction Rebellion decided to put their XRTREE by the clock because there used to be a tree at that spot.

The clock was surrounded by messages written in chalk which had washed away by the next morning.

Some residents were not happy about the chalk. One post on Facebook said: "Well done to Extinction Rebellion on defacing the Kettering clock and the area surrounding it and then not even bothering to clean it up afterwards. If this was a group of teenagers doing this there would be uproar. Good to see that a local business respects the town that they’re based in."

The tree had over 100 messages from the public on leaves made from recycled fabric

The tree had over 100 messages from the public on leaves made from recycled fabric

Many comments pointed out that chalk washes away easily but there were other comments disagreeing with what they viewed as mess created by XR demonstrations and installations like this XRTREE.

The action in Kettering comes just as XR plan to create mass disruption in London for two weeks in an attempt to draw the government's attention to the climate crisis and force action.

Adrian Watts, 52, is from Kettering and was at the XRTREE event and will be taking part in protests in London.

When asked about XR's plans for people to be arrested to fill the 2,000 London jail spaces and if he would be arrested he said: "Maybe, I am not going there to get arrested, I've not put myself up as an arrestable but if it happens, I am prepared for it."

The group picked this spot because there used to be a tree there

The group picked this spot because there used to be a tree there

Mr Watts said XR's disruptive protests were designed to draw the government's attention to their calls for action, he added: "I just wish the government would take a stronger response to climate action."

After the XRTREE event, Mr Watts said: "I had many interesting and engaging conversations with people with a genuine concern for the climate. I had only a couple of people who were dismissive and no-one who was abusive.

"We were accountable for our actions and there were no complaints made by local shops, traders or police.”

The messages written on leaves will be presented at the next full Kettering council meeting in October.

Mr Watts said the group were lobbying the council to act, he said: "They called a climate emergency a couple of months back and they have done nothing since."

Many members involved in the day said it had been a positive experience.

Emily Fedorowycz, co-founder of the Kettering Eco Group, said: "It's so great to see so many of the community getting involved in climate issues and getting to have their say.

"Seeing the buzz this created - seeing the smiles of passers by, hearing the children's wonderful ideas and speaking with passionate citizens was incredibly empowering and inspiring."

Charlotte Bee, 20, a florist from Kettering said: “It was very heartwarming to read the messages and it goes to show just how many people in the community care.

"We had a TREEmendous day.”

Extinction Rebellion are protesting for all levels of government to declare a climate emergency, to set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2025 and create a citizen's assembly to develop solutions to the crisis.

XR Kettering hold fortnightly meetings for local people, more information about the group can be found on their Facebook page.