Dongria

Dongria

Interviewed on 27.07.2011

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[TRACK 1]

TONY WRIGHT:

This is Tony Wright, 27th of July 2011 and I’m talking to Dongria in her home in Hebden Bridge....and can you tell me your full name and where and when you born?

DONGRIA: I’m called Dongria Kondh, although I have changed my name in the last year to that, and I was born in 1955 in....I’m not quite sure where I was born, somewhere in the south of England because I was adopted, and so my origins are shrouded in mystery.

TW:

I see.

DK: I was actually adopted by.....slightly ironically, by a guy who worked in a nuclear power station, and I wondered to myself whether...whether they were a bit more careless about radiation in those days, and that’s probably how I might have ended up getting adopted.

TW:

I see. Why did you change your name? If that’s alright to ask.

DK: Well it is actually.....although I’m getting slightly bored of telling people [laughing] about it, but.....for the past few years I’ve been involved with Climate Camp, and last year Climate Camp went up to the Royal Bank of Scotland and....which is.... taxpayer owned and investing in loads of dodgy stuff like mining in the Arctic....oil...tar sands....but one of the things the RBS was investing in was a firm called Vedanta in India, who wanted to put a huge bauxite mine on the tribal lands of the Dongria Kondh, and so to get my kind of Spartacus I am Dongria Kondh, so I changed my name for the action that I did at the Royal Bank of Scotland; I superglued myself to the....to the sort of main....part of the main office. [laughing]

TW:

Right.

DK: So anyway I’ve...I might die in my original name and so I will keep this name until the tribal lands are safe from this mine.

TW:

What was your original name then?

DK: Penny Eastwood.

TW:

Was this your adopted parents’ name then?

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DK: Yes I don’t know where....I don’t know....I don’t know what my true biological parents were called or anything about them.

TW:

So did you....were you brought up then in the south of England?

DK: I was brought up in the south of England and I had quite a posh upbringing.

TW:

Right.....and what was that like....as a child?

DK: I had a very nice childhood really you know, nobodies going to complain about being around ponies and things like that [laughing] it was fine, and....I went to boarding school but I was a bit of a rebel and....boarding school was near Glastonbury so I used to escape to.....to go with the hippies on Glastonbury Tor and stuff – sneak out at night!

TW:

Very good. How did you come about to be in Hebden then?

DK: ......confluence of reasons......I.......I was going to do Peace Studies, well I did do Peace Studies at Bradford and......at that time I’d been living in Liverpool and so my partner, my then partner also got a job at Calrec which is in Hebden, and I was moving to Bradford University and so this seemed to be the right place to go. That was 1987.

TW:

Right. What was it like in Hebden back then?

DK: ........well.......Broughton Street......where I was.....for the first year when living there, I actually did know everybody on the street, and also there were hardly any cars on the street so we used to be able to.....put out the washing line so the children could play badminton in the street and......yeah that was good, but then gradually cars moved in and the children’s play space was squeezed out, but by then my kids were sort of grown up so they had a very nice childhood......in the street.

TW:

Right. I want to talk to you about Treesponsibility because I don’t really know how it began, but I do know that you were one of the main instigators in starting it. Could you tell me how it began?

DK: I suppose probably go back to the.......to the Peace Studies thing, because for my dissertation in Peace Studies.....this was in 1990, I.....decided to look into the international politics of climate change, and so kind of I got climate change quite

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early, I was....I understand what was going on quite early and.......obviously trying to talk to people about climate and engage people about climate, it’s a very big thing and it’s very easy for people to sort of go in denial and....it’s a bit depressing, sort of handing out to people depressing leaflets about depressing things that might happen, so.......that was my thinking, that was where I came from, and at the same time as I was kind of in this sort of head state, there was a Hebden Bridge Woodlands Group forming and......one night, I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea of Treesponsibility, with the word Treesponsibility in my head and kind of got the idea of combining the climate awareness stuff with the tree stuff, because that’s kind of a positive thing so it was sort of trying to engage people with something positive so that they’d be more likely to listen to the good things I had to impart. [laughing]

TW:

Right, so that’s how the idea came, but how did you organise it, I mean what was your......kind of like motivation for getting it together sort of thing?

DK: ........well......how did we organise it?......Well in the same way as everything gets organised really; we had meetings and got people off the ground, we got the Council on board quite early because it was the time of Agenda 21, you know, that was kind of supposed to be the.....the big environmental thing then, you don’t hear much about Agenda 21 any more, but that’s what it was at that time, and so......then putting in for grants obviously and doing the background work of....of getting it up, and then....we launched it at Riverside School on the 9th of March 1998.....and we planted what we thought was a lilac and which became known as the Launch Lilac, but it’s recently turned out to be some form of ornamental willow- we were told it was a lilac tree, somebody gave us this tree and [laughing] but there is the tree still in the yard at Riverside School, it’s a little.....it’s got a little wall round it.

TW:

Right. Who else....sorry, who else is involved beside yourself?

DK: Well in the early days.....we had....I think the group at one stage in the early days was up to I think twenty-one people, I’m not gonna run off all their names, but then I sort of gradually whittled its way down to a kind of core group that kept going and now we’ve got a core group of nine which is a kind of nice size – nine very committed people who come to meetings and do everything, and....of those nine people......seven get some form of income from it, not very much income, but some.....but then....I’ll tell a bit of the story because after the....after the launch, sort of a year after the launch, the basic initial idea was that people could take responsibility for their own carbon emissions – coming out and planting trees – so that there was kind of a way that they could put in....put in train the mechanism to recycle their own carbon back down into the atmosphere, and we.......in the first year and a half, we....we actually wrote a book about, a little book about how we set it up and everything, and with climate information and all sorts of things woven through, but there’s.....an interesting story about the book because.....in June 2000, the book was at the printer’s on a pallet and that was the day when Hebden Bridge had the big flood, it was really – I don’t know, I don’t know if you were here

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TW:

I was yeah.

DK: Yeah, and....the book was just three inches above the water.....the water level....the bottom of the pallet, half way up was under water, so....but then of course we realised that we’d been concentrating on carbon and we hadn’t actually been thinking of the impact of climate on this valley, and so that was kind of a wake up call because you know, you can think about climate changing.

TW:

So you’d gone from the global to the particular kind of idea in a way.

DK: Absolutely, because.....you know, and we realised that actually tree planting could be quite significant about helping to.....to slow the run-off, channel it into the area where

TW:

Sure, yeah.

DK: Well trees help prevent erosion, that’s one thing, and obviously you don’t want all the soil to be flowing down into the rivers because that’s going to sort of silt them up, so that’s one thing. They also suck up water in their trunks; trees are approximately half water, they also put their......roots down into the ground and that helps the water to filter down into the aquifers rather than just running straight off, so they can be quite significant and when we first did it we were really using our intuition that that would be a good thing, but after that, over the years, there has been more scientific stuff to prove that actually trees do have that role, and so since then we’ve been kind of aiming to plant five hectares a year, keep batting away at it because.....we think that if we turn it, make it a twenty-five year project and try to....be quite strategic about where we’re putting the trees from the flooding point of view, then you know, we will have made some sort of an impact at a valid scale.

TW:

Right. In the beginning you said there was like a Woodland Group. What did the Woodland Group do in particular then?

DK: Well the woodland group sort of morphed into Treesponsibility; the Woodland Group was coming from a tree perspective and

TW:

But did you like grow your own trees from acorns or what?

DK: We did; we started and we did have....for a while we did have a tree nursery and we did grow thousands of trees, but actually in the end, that was really labour intensive in the.....in the summer months, and we really found that it stretched our resources a bit

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too much, so we, we now buy our trees in, because we are planting....well last year we planted.....about twenty-two thousand trees, so

TW:

What kind of trees?

DK: British broad leaf trees, mostly....oak, birch, ash, rowan, shrubs like hazel, hawthorn, holly....sure I’ve missed some out.....willow, alder, a lot of alder in some of the rough patches.....and a few orchards as well, but now most of the orchard role is being taken over by the Calder Local Orchard Group, which we work with as well, so.....

TW:

So, how do you go about targeting areas to plant the trees?

DK: Well......the.....what we’re particularly looking for from the point of view of flood reduction is steep valley sides, or eroded land. We have to be quite careful where we’re putting trees and things like that because there’s various issues like rare birds – you’ve to be careful – also you don’t really want to plant on top of peat moorland, you know, I mean, because peat is....peat is actually a huge carbon store, there’s much more carbon stored in peat than in trees, but it’s also very at risk because a lot of UK peat.....peat moorlands, I think is eighty per cent degraded.

TW:

Right How degraded?

DK: I don’t know, I haven’t got that statistic in my head, but

TW:

I don’t mean by numbers really, but I mean by usage or....how is it degraded?

DK: Oh how is it degraded....well.....shall I talk about the bit that I know about most?

TW:

Yeah.

DK: One of the....well one of our new projects as well is called The Source, and...we’re trying to do ecological restoration close to....within three miles of the source of the River Calder, and that area there, let’s see what we’ve had.....over-grazing....tipping, open cast mining....mining, still get iron pyrite in the water from the old mines......quarrying, pretty much everything that could be chucked at a landscape has been chucked at that particular landscape, and so kind of one of my....one of my ambitions is to manage to......get that – I’d like to get that area to be healthy again before I die – whether or not I manage it I’m not sure, but...

TW:

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Is it Lancashire that’s the source?

DK: The source is just over the border in Lancashire, but I mean

TW:

Is that on the Burnley Road, out that way?

DK: Yes.......Ratten Clough......Ratten Clough is officially the source but then there’s another one that’s going down..... Midgelden Brook which goes down the Bacup Road, and then there’s Walsden Water; they’re the three main tributaries, you know

TW:

They turn into the Calder?

DK: Yeah all those three......turn into the Calder, and we had sort of.....well I was....led to that area in.....well after.....after we’d thought about flooding and we’d started our After the Flood, the Forest project [chuckling] then that was quite close to the source of the river, the first big site that we got, and I don’t know if you ever go up

TW:

I have seen it, yeah, I’ve seen it.

DK: And we were working away on that site, and we found out that just over the brow of the hill they wanted to do a massive new open cast mine, so we had a huge battle to....to stop that, which we won and....

TW:

That’s really good.

DK: Yeah, and that’s three quarters of a million tons of carbon that didn’t go up into the atmosphere so I’m quite proud of that, but....it’s quite difficult liaising with landowners. This bit here is a bit sensitive......maybe this bit’s not for the website....but it’s quite difficult liaising with...

TW:

If you don’t wanna say it just don’t say it.

DK: Well some people just want to get as much money as they can out of their land.

TW:

Yeah, well which is kind of a reasonable thing to wanna do I suppose, if you’re a capitalist, that’s the way they go isn’t it? [laughing] So, I mean.....do you work with the Council then, because the Council owns an awful lot of land around here.

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DK: They don’t own as much as you might think.

TW:

Oh really?

DK: We are working with the Council. One of the....one of the sites that we’re hoping to plant next year is Sandy Gate which isn’t so much of a flooding site – it’s an allotment site – and so that’s gonna be orchard trees and...

TW:

On the field?

DK: Yes

TW:

Above, right.

DK: Yes, but there’s gonna be allotments there, and......there’ll be a little bit of wood just to extend that wood but not going right down to the road, and that’s....we’ve worked together with the Council on that. They’ve got a new Woodlands Officer at the Council who’s very good and we work with her as much as we can, and....the other thing that....quite a lot of people in Treesponsibility are interested in is woodland management because there’s a lot of under managed woodland which actually would be more biodiverse or thriving if it was managed, and that can be a sort of fuel supply as well for local people, you know, using the wood.

TW:

Right....right.

DK: That’s another climate dimension – the thing about trees, they’ve got a lot of climate dimensions.

TW:

I mean at one time didn’t you grow sort of hazel and willow....for making withies for people to use in various ways?

DK: We’ve still got hazel and stuff..... with also a slightly different hat, a coppicer’s hat on.....we’re still doing coppicing in Nut Wood but to be fair, we make more money from doing educational work than the actual products that we’re getting out of the wood because we do things with.....since 2006 we’ve been doing loads of work with schools. We bring them out tree planting, but we also take them out to woodland and they can see the other part of the process of how trees can get coppiced and the different stages of.....all that.

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TW:

So it’s educational for the kids. I mean, how young do you start them?

DK: I like working with the Year 5s. I don’t know who you’re working with [laughing] but teenagers are rotten! No they’re not really, not if you are a teenager – you’re fine, you’re fine and good! But particularly with tree planting, the Year 5 and Year 6 really take it....really do a great job...they seem to be the kids that are getting the best out of it.

TW:

Oh right, that’s good. I know someone who works for the Council in the.....in the parks and the woodland, whatever it’s called these days, and he was telling me ages ago about all the beech trees, how the beech trees aren’t indigenous so there’s a kind of twenty-five year plan in Calderdale to gradually cut down all the beeches because they think they erode...

DK: Beeches do, because they’ve got.....they take out the under storey. If you go to the woodland....what’s that at the back of Hebden, over the other side? Near Fairfield?

TW:

There’ s....

DK: What’s that wood called?

TW:

It’s Crow Wood.

DK: Crow Wood. If you go there you will see that in action because there’s just no under storey, but the thing is if you’re coppicing and bringing light into the woodland, actually that is boosting up the.....you know, the under storey.

TW:

Yeah. I was just wondering whether...I mean I don’t know....how and when the Council are going to decide when to cut down the beech trees because they’re massive big things and it would probably cost a lot of money, but I was wondering whether if you’ve got a kind of maybe an arrangement with them that once they start cutting down the beeches you could start planting in, you know, new varieties to kind of keep the land intact.

DK: Well it’s actually not me, but other people in Treesponsibility who are doing more of that work with the Council. You need to talk to Keith or Nora who are both in Treesponsibility, and both are also in another group called Back Bark; everybody in Hebden has got loads of different hats, but they’re working in that and they’re doing quite a lot of work with the Council.

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TW:

Oh that’s good, that’s really good. You told me a few minutes ago, all of these different types of trees that you actually plant. Is there a kind of hierarchy of.....need shall we say, for trees that grow quicker, for there to be a certain amount of....a certain kind of tree and then other ones that may be slow growing so you get a mix

DK: Yeah there is. If you’re going on to....you don’t necessarily plant what you want to end up with in the end. To begin with, all....this is on poor ground....you would be putting things like a lot of alder and some birch, things that will tolerate sort of....shady, rotten soil, and then as they grow up, you’d start inter-planting with oak and the.....slower growing species. Alder are great because you plant an alder and then very soon it’s quite big, but....whereas oaks are much, much slower

TW:

So it’s not just going out planting trees then, it’s....you have to in effect manage it over the years so that as soon as the birch are a certain height, or however old they might be, then you kind of like thin them out and start putting in

DK: Well this is what we want to do, but actually we don’t own any land ourselves, I mean, the work of Treesponsibility.....most of the work is background work and it comes under...we talk about the three-legged wooden stool, and the three legs of the stool are getting money in- massive bit of the job, getting the land in, because we don’t own the land; we’ve no land, we have to engage landowners, and the third leg of the stool is getting people to come and do the planting, and the seat of the stool is the climate education bit, but with respect to that question about how the long-term management, obviously we have to do everything with the consent of landowners, so we haven’t got any, you know, we haven’t got any......the main......we’d like....we’d like to try and get ourselves to be the woodland grant agents and then we’d get a woodland grant scheme and we’d get a ten year contract, and if we can do that, that’s our favourite to do because that means that we’ve got an ongoing attachment to that land for ten years, and then we hopefully will have formed a good working relationship with the landowner and we’ll get more....we’ll then shade on and start getting the woodland management grants and start bringing it in that....but we haven’t got the....we can’t say that’s definitely going to happen because it’s not our land and we have to just manage to do things by consent, and engage all the people who own the land in the project.

TW:

Right. Sounds very frustrating. [laughing]

DK: We’ve got loads of really excellent landowners we work with. Sometimes it can be frustrating to go and plant something and the landowners let the neighbour graze their sheep for example, where we’ve planted and all our trees get eaten, but you have to develop patience.

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TW:

Yeah. I’m just.....one thing springs to mind and I don’t know how relevant it is to be quite honest. Talking about the tops which are all peat, well, the reason they’re all peat is because there were once trees there, I mean thousands of years ago, and I know it’s a kind of endangered environment these days. Is there not some sort of scheme where you could actually start to plant trees up there again; not wholesale but just little pockets shall we say, have little woods that might be useful for, you know, a variety of plants or animals or birds or something, so actually begin to create a kind of new...sort of environment?

DK: Well I think the best thing for the tops is probably to....sort out the inappropriate drainage because there actually is more carbon in peat than in trees, and one of the things about, this new project called The Source, which wouldn’t just be tree planting, it would be things like gulley blocking, moorland restoration, just....to try and actually....stop...most of our moorlands are a carbon source; they’re continually emitting carbon and I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago about carbon, and I’ve one of these statistics lodged in my brain, tha....if we lost five per cent of our moorland area, that would be equivalent to a year’s total emissions from this country, so really....and three per cent of the land surface of the globe is......is peat moorland, and that holds as much carbon as the atmosphere does, so it’s very significant.

TW:

How does it escape then?

DK: Well....I think....I think the two main things.....I mean obviously apart from physically mining and industry and all things, there’s.....the main way it comes down off the moors is through something called dissolved organic carbon I think, DOC, and over the.....past.....well....ever since we’ve been here, but people dig drainage ditches and gradually all the peat sort of leaches down, and you can see like when you get floods, you know, you get

TW:

It’s all orange.

DK: Yes, you know, it all leaches down. Part of that is because of the way that....the poor drainage, well, the.....not the poor drainage but the too good drainage if you see what...but they’ve dug all these ditches, so what we’d like to do is....and what I’m fund raising for at the moment, is to.....for us to be able to block all these....these gullies, and then the land then would hold more carbon, it would also hold more water as well, because one of the main risks to peat lands is of course fire, as we’re going to get more drought, you know, drought times, because the two sort of extremes, we get extremes of drought but then you get heavy rainfall events, both of which are bad, but like on Ilkley Moor last year, it was a massive fire, that’s one way that a lot of carbon gets out from the peat moors into the....into the atmosphere, and the third thing – so there’s the drainage, the changing climate itself, the third issue is.....air pollution, sort of from probably you know, the time before the Clean Air Act and things like that,

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that had quite a bad effect on moors because moors.....mosses and things can be quite tolerant of pollution and once your mosses start dying back, you get bare ground and then....and then it gets devegetated......so.....

TW:

Right. So if you blocked up the drainage, what would actually......the moorland, it’s sort of heather around here mostly, heather and bilberry and fern I suppose, and if that started to hold a lot more water, how would it.....what would actually grow there then – the same plants or what....how would it change?

DK: Yeah I think so......to be a honest I do know more about trees, you know, I have been to this conference but the.....yeah, I think so because if you go to a sort of like, a good....bog it will probably have heather on it – Kinder Scout and places like that – covered in heather aren’t they?

TW:

Yes. There are.....well I don’t know....they have a very bad reputation, British Waterways, don’t they....I was just wondering whether you’ve approached them to kind of like become.....part of a supplier for them to actually plant trees around waterways to help in the flood aspect of it?

DK: The people who would be more likely to do that, and actually some......it’s not the waterways, not the canal companies, but actually the water companies

TW:

Oh right.

DK: And...over the hill in Lancashire, the water company there, I can’t quite remember their names, not Yorkshire Water, but they’ve actually been doing these moorland restoration projects right there, but unfortunately it’s also the river which is the bit where we want to go; there aren’t any Yorkshire Water....you know, there aren’t any that....but obviously the water companies aren’t interested because one of the things that they’re particularly interested in is this DOC, this dissolved organic carbon, which is actually a major problem for them in.....guaranteeing water quality, so there are.....there are things that....that can be done there, and there are some other groups who are fairly close to here who are doing moorland restoration; there’s Moors for Life....who I’ve got, and they’re doing something in Ripponden, in the Ripponden area which is a really good thing, and we’ve also got Yorkshire Peat Partnership who are doing something on Midgley Moor, so there are people doing stuff and that is good, but we could always have more and I would like.....I would like some of that moor to be near the source of the river.

TW:

Yeah. There’s the....what are they called......Anthony Rae works for them – is it Calder Future....who work on the rivers as well; they do.....they do all kinds of projects don’t they, to do with the rivers. I just wondered whether....if they’d asked you to do anything for them.

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DK: No, we invited them to come in on The Source partnership but Anthony was doing another bid at the time, so he was not in on that, but we have got various lots of partners in; we’ve got the Council in, we’ve got Pennine Prospects, we’ve got the Cauldron Carmid’s Trust.....The Wildlife Group.....you know, so we are sort of building.....hopefully.

TW:

Right. So you’re kind of concentrating on the Upper Calder Valley basically. Do you go down the valley at all, through....through Halifax and Brighouse.

DK: We have done.....if you go to Halifax there’s a big site called Brackenbeds, that was a Council site; we....we didn’t do all of it but we were involved with that planting, it was back in our early days, September 1998.....so...and we have planted further afield....I suppose I’m a bit selfish, you know, [laughing]....but also, having....having a sort of focus on the Upper Calder Valley, it does mean we that we can kind of probably end up with a strategic effect in our local area.

TW:

Because any effect you have here will kind of pass along the river really won’t it.

DK: Yeah.

TW:

If you keep it well here, do it well here, there won’t be as many problems further downstream so to speak.

DK: Yeah.

TW:

Right.....right, that’s good. Where do you buy your trees?

DK: Well we buy them from a tree nursery in Scotland....really on price. They’re very nice, Alba Trees.

TW:

Right. Do they deliver them then or do you have to go and collect?

DK: Well they deliver, but they also at the end of the year, if they’ve got any leftovers, they....they say they’ve got some spares and we have a little holiday up in Scotland and we take the van up and stay over in Dunbar, very nice place to visit Dunbar, and.....yeah, that’s it.

TW:

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Right. Do you store them all in Nut Wood then?

DK: No we’ve got a little....a little bit of land up.....which we rent up Bents Farm, up Horsehold, bit further up than Horsehold.....but also we try and store it on the sites.....so that we try and get it so that all the trees for each site are on each site

TW:

Where they’re gonna actually be planted.

DK: Yeah where they’re actually gonna be planted.

TW:

Well that saves a lot of....moving about really doesn’t it?

DK: Yeah we’re trying to minimise the amount of faff .

TW:

So....I mean I know you have this sort of....long term.....kind of idea of just making it better and better. Are there any specific like projects over this year and next year that you’re actually gonna try and get going?

DK: Well there’s Sandy Gate.

TW:

Yeah.

DK: We are....crossing our fingers that we can get some funding for The Source, so it’s a question of......what we.....what we’ve got to do for the next....probably six months is to do some really on the ground survey work.

TW:

Right.

DK: We were thinking that maybe some of the secondary schools or maybe even some universities might.....might be interested in sending the students out to help with that, so we’re going to get ourselves sort of trained, so we’re gonna to be going looking at peat depths.....measuring gullies, making restoration plans and doing all the technical work in advance, which then hopefully will support the funding bid....touch wood, touch wood.

TW:

Well it sounds a great idea, I think it does, yeah. Right......I just.... I suppose I’ll get a little bit off the subject.....there’s a lot of.....groups shall we say in Hebden Bridge

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and the Upper Valley really who are interested in sort of ecological or environmental concerns, like there’s the whole Transition Town kind of thing and there’s the Yorkshire Group that you talked about. Is there....is anybody just sort of doing it independently or is there a kind of....do you get together and talk about strategies and stuff like that?

DK: There are a lot of groups. There’s a huge amount of social engagement in Hebden Bridge. Trying to get everybody under one umbrella is a bit like herding cats, because people work with what they....you know, people....in the end, if you’re doing things voluntarily people do what they want to do, you know, and they won’t....they won’t want somebody else to say, ‘well strategically that’s less important’ – they would never want to do that – and I think that’s part of the territory, I think you’ve just got to...you know....I.....I suppose I used to have a faith in the idea of sort of like the Transition Town idea of bringing a sort of energy, present plan and getting people to sign up in it, but.....in a way I think my philosophy is more to do with muddling along in the right direction.

TW:

Right.

DK: You know....I’m so sick of having done strategy, you know, and at regional level; we went into the Regional Spatial Strategy and Treesponsibility, also sort of danced to all these consultations and, you know, Regional Forestry Strategy, then a new government comes in, all the strategies are thrown out, doesn’t matter....oh, I just don’t think I can do strategies any more, I just kind of.....I think if people are sort of working together and liaising, and sort of bundling along doing what they’re doing at the same time, I think that’s probably the most that you can.....can hope for really.

TW

Right.

DK: Because you could have the most brilliant plan in the world, for example, I mean Transition Town is doing this stuff to try and....promote the local economy, but you’ve got two new supermarkets eyeing up Todmorden, so I mean you’ve got all that economic differentials and economic power, you know, politics enters the equation as well and......life’s complicated!

TW:

Yes, yes indeed......so within Treesponsibility then, there’s like nine core members. Do you.....each have a kind of role within the organisation then, or is there just.....do you talk about it, and someone says ‘oh I’ll do that’ or is there a kind of delineation of it all?

DK: Well Keith is our site supreme...... Barbara does the.....the admin and keeps us all in order.....I’m sort of kind of the development worker type.....Christina books the....the children and so she’s the sort of school liaison person, so there are roles

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within......within it. Bear looks after the vehicles, you know, so we...but we do mess in and it’s.....most people can.....understand enough of what somebody else is doing to be able to do it, I mean we have....we’ve got a development group and.....we have, you know, management meetings as well, so it’s not....it’s not actually brilliant...there’s two privileges of being, well they aren’t privileges, there’s two things about being a Treesponsibility member: One is that you.....you are guaranteed to go to meetings, so you know, and if people don’t turn up at the meetings, I think it’s three meetings, they would stop being a member; they would lapse from being a member. The second thing is that we are....we are unlimited; we’re not a limited organisation....and so we all jointly accept liability for the....for the project, and there are various reasons about....that....the idea about it is....that capitalism works on particular things; it’s the idea of having limited liability and also shareholders as well, so that.....you can, it’s basically all about externalising its cost and externalising its responsibility, so actually being unlimited means....no, we are actually taking full responsibility for what we do, we’re not externalising it.....you know, and it also does mean that we actually do have to run.....run it correctly and get all, you know....make sure the finances, you know....make sure that we’re doing things right, so it’s discipline as well.

TW:

Right.

DK: And also kind of I like, in a slightly hippy-dippy way, I like the idea of being unlimited.....it’s kind of...

TW:

Yeah....I’m just curious. Is there anything that I haven’t asked, that maybe there’s some aspect of it that you’d like to sort of talk about that I haven’t mentioned?

DK: No I think.....I think we’ve pretty much....covered.....covered the ground.

TW:

Okay.....have you seen an impact then on the work that you’ve done, cos you’ve been doing it what....for about.....what thirteen years is it now?

DK: Ah, there is something, I forgot something, yes.....we.....now that we’re....now that we’re going into the sort of.....economic weird zone with all these economic crises around, we.....we’re trying to diversify the way that we get our money, so one of the things that we’re doing now is we’re having an annual walk, so people can walk up the valley going through all the Treesponsibility sites that we’ve done before, and.....so some of.....some of the woodlands are pretty good now.....so that’s nice because when you first plant trees they look.....they look a bit measly; they aren’t that big and they never grow much in the first year or even the first couple of years and then suddenly whoosh.....so.....so yeah, we’ve got woodlands that like woodlands now, so that’s.....that’s good, and probably the tallest tree that I planted is about thirty foot now or something like that.....that was before the beginning of Treesponsibility, but yes, we have got some....you know, real woodlands that look good, and so we’re

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linking the walk that goes from Hebden....goes from Nut Wood and up the other side of the valley and then......across from Todmorden over to...

TW:

It’s a long walk then isn’t it?

DK: It’s a sixteen mile walk, but.....but we thought then people could do it as a sponsored walk and also people can come and look at the sites.

TW:

Right....right, that’s a good idea.

DK On the 25th of September if you get [laughing].....if you get this before then!

TW:

Okay......just to slightly follow up, just talking in general then, not just about Treesponsibility but.....Hebden Bridge and the Upper Valley.....how has it changed do you think over the last, you know, ten or fifteen, twenty years.....because it will have.....the way it’s changed will have....affected sort of the work that you do in some ways I suppose, cos there seems to be more traffic so you would think....it’s going to be harder for you to actually do anything because there’s so much traffic. Have you noticed, you know, the change in the last twenty years in Hebden Bridge?

DK: Well......there is a lot of traffic......there’s a lot of tourists; I don’t mind people coming to visit. I’d far rather people came to visit Hebden Bridge then flew away to the other side of the world, you know, any day, and.....I think that a lot of things are constant, I think one of the really brilliant things about Hebden is the level of social engagement that there actually is in the town; I think it really is extremely unusual for that......and......and....I think it......people always moan and say ‘oh it’s worse than it used to be’ you know, and la la la la, but I think there’s loads of really good....good things about Hebden, and it was, of course if you go back in time it was a tourist destination; they used to come in charabancs....you know, and go.....that little cabin, you know that little cabin, the Cabin Café, that cabin used to be up Hardcastle Crags in the...

TW:

Wasn’t it part of.....Dawson City? Wasn’t it part of that?

DK: I think so yeah, I’m not sure, but.....but anyway, so....so it always.....it always has been a bit of a tourist place, and I don’t mind that really, you know, I know some people are a bit....snotty about it, but, you know....and it’s not the worst thing; I think the main thing that’s an issue in Hebden is the house prices, even though country wide, you know, we look quite cheap you know, compared with the south, but.....I think.....I’m not quite sure the statistic....something like ninety per cent of people.....who would like to be first time buyers couldn’t afford to you know, in terms of the amount of wages that are done locally, I think that’s very damaging for

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the town actually, that is the main thing, because when I moved to Hebden it was....it was really very cheap. It hadn’t finished being steam cleaned, they were, you know, when I first came to Hebden which is before I lived in it, doing the Pennine Way and the whole town was black because....because none of the....the industrial soot had been scrubbed off the houses and.....and of course to make the town more attractive, then that attracts rich people; as you make the town nice and do nice things, then there’s always a down side to the up side, that that makes it....hard for local....local people who are born here to stay here and, you know, those that, you know, I can’t talk, I’m an off-comer, I mean......I wasn’t born here...I mean I was very lucky with my house, in the sense of my mother died; she lived down south and I was able to buy a small, with my inheritance, I was able to buy a small back-to-back, which I’ve always used to good effect because that gave me the liberty to be able to live on a very small income and do good stuff that I wanted to, which not everybody has that opportunity to do, because they’re so busy being.....having to pay mortgages and, you know, if they’re that lucky, or rent, you know as well, so I would say that that is the biggest issue for the town, you know, these days.

TW:

Yeah I would agree that is one of the biggest ones....right well in that case, if there’s nothing else, I’d just like to say thank you very much for talking to me.

DK: Thank you.

TW:

That’s alright, yes, okay we’ll turn that off.

[END OF TRACK ONE]

About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

Get in touch

Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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