Green Goes Popby Alana Cremonte / 18.10.2010
Global warming and its apocalyptic shadow – climate change – warrant mass mobilization. Sadly our hamster wheels are on cruise control. Yes Woolworths stocks (a gouging overpriced range of) Green cleaning products – but we’re, ah, still not doing enough to save our planet. Or pressuring the usual suspects (government, corporate capital) to take environmental transformation as seriously as the pursuit of profit and power.
Enter Greenpop – an outreach eco organization making it easy for us to do our part. Their message is simple: donate R50 bucks and they plant a tree. Done. And seeing as trees are basically the lungs of our ailing planet, they make a good point.
If you haven’t bumped into this band of merry volunteers yet, you probably don’t live in Cape Town. They stage informal “sit-ins” on fake grass they can drop anywhere in the city and do free jams with bongos and guitars to “raise consciousness” and enlist support. It sounds way more “hippie dippy” than it actually is. The music is inventive and fun. They’re about positive re-enforcement and local collective solutions to environmental issues rather than name-calling doom and gloom. When it comes to volunteering, you don’t necessarily need to do hard labor. Everyone does what they can – from the car guard that sings French chansons to the guy from Joburg who donated an amazing animated Greenpop advert.
It all started when Greenpop founder, Misha Teasdale, wanted to plant 1000 trees in a month to offset his own carbon footprint. With an ever-growing army doing plantings all over these days and major donations, Misha’s little Greenpop venture is well on its way to changing the Cape landscape for the better. Hey maybe one day it’ll look as good as it did when that covetous shit Van Riebeck first landed!
Greenpop is a tangible suggestion of what will soon be a global necessity – inspired community projects driven by environmental concern and goodwill. Often happening in civil spaces outside indifferent state structures. It is happening in cities across the globe. The urban farming movement. Community gardens. A return to subsistence practices in renovated urban spaces. People are waking up to the urgency of reformulating everyday life from extractive and harmful mass behavior to patterns more conducive to sustainability. Re-thinking cities means downplaying the centrality of carbon hungry pastimes from driving cars to burning coal for power.
This movement is focused on saving the environment but central to that is uplifting communities. There is no environmental change without social transformation. Greenpop has, in the past 6 weeks of its life, planted 1233 trees in areas that seriously needed greening. They’ve chosen fruit-bearing, wind-resistant trees like the Brachylaena Discolor and Ekebergia that are great for the loose, sandy soil of the Cape Flats and townships of the Western Cape. With care and maintenance, tending to the new trees, can you imagine what these suburbs will look like in a couple of years?
There’s a Bad Religion song that goes: “The next time I create the universe, I’ll make sure you participate!” Now that could well be a bitchy aside in a love gone sour, but it’s still pretty relevant. So keep a look out for those bongo Greenpop fake grass sit-ins – and get involved. The planet, you know, needs you. And you need it. Where else are you going to live?
*All images © Alana Cremonte.