Victory of the Commons

Some will try to tell you that people are essentially selfish.

That anything that exists for the common good and in common ownership will inevitably be plundered for personal individual gain.

I am lucky enough to live in a connected caring community which shows the caring sharing and co-operative side of human nature is just as strong, and with the challenges we face in our world,

working together is the only way we can survive!

Blackpool planted 250 trees on public land, the commons, in July. Sadly one tree was stolen. But what has happened since has been a remarkable demonstration of community resilience.

Tragedy of the commons? Not on Waiheke.
In July this year, the Blackpool community, through it’s Residents Association and supported by the Waiheke Local Board and Auckland council, planted 250 fruit and nut trees on the road reserves in their area. The Blackpool commons.
Click on the photo to see a gallery of the trees one day after planting
250 trees were planted, on public land, and around 60 households have taken responsibility for the maintenance of these trees for the benefit of all. As part of a vision for a resilient healthy and connected island, it is hoped that the trees will survive, thrive and provide the public good of fruit to whomever needs it.
One piece of sad news is that one of the trees was stolen.
stolen tree

Now some of the less community minded people vocal on the Waiheke social media pages have suggested that it is not technically possible to steal something that belongs to everyone, that people are essentially selfish, and that the “tragedy of the commons” always plays out as individuals seek to privatise for personal benefit common goods.
I do not believe this is true of a good strong community like ours.
Whilst there will always be selfish negative people, on the whole our island fosters a spirit of co-operation, helping each other out, and really identifying with the people and place here.
Sure, ok, one public fruit tree got stolen. Yes, stolen, from us all, but look at what else has happened:
  • 6 people contacted the Blackpool residents association after the planting day having missed out, and the Local Board and Council were able to find more trees.
  • One woman went out and bought a fruit tree with her own money and planted it on public land.
  • A local propagator has offered as many banana seedlings as we need.
  • One of our local nurserymen continues the island tradition of propagating peaches for roadsides, and has donated some to this project.
With proper care, and the education and development offered by the Blackpool Residents Association, these trees will survive, will provide healthy food, and the spirit and reality of the commons, land and trees that belong to us all, for the benefit of us all, will thrive and grow on this island.

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