Another day, another battle to save the air and trees in our hometown. Let’s go activists, our work is far from done!
One hundred new trees in Skopje, a city that is turning into a concrete jungle! But there are still a handful of activists not letting the green spaces disappear. This year, as part of the Trees of Friendship initiative, we looked for a suitable place to do our biggest planting action yet and found it – a new park in the Kisela Voda municipality, already green with grass and benches, but not a tree in sight.
We took the standard route of asking the municipality for permission to plant there, with a very Balkan way of submitting a paper request via the municipality archives (an online procedure still seems too scary for many institutions). Knowing how the system worked, we made a phone inquiry beforehand, making sure that the right people were aware and that we would get verbal permission before submitting our formal documents. I even got a call from the mayor to tell me that we’re good (I was addressed as ‘hey bro’).
However, every good story has a few twists! After getting the permission from the municipality, we called up our city greenery department, to have them help with the digging and planting like all the previous years. Only then, two weeks before the planting, we found out that the City had already planned trees in that park. Somehow the communication between institutions broke down (such a surprise), and we were stuck in limbo. After some negotiations, we managed to get the deal back on track, namely that would take over those 100 trees from the City.
The planting took place on a gloomy winter day, with light drizzle and heavy fog. But that didn’t stop us, and together with volunteers and workers, we managed to plant all the trees at the planned location. It looks so much more beautiful now, a green oasis between rows of buildings . I can’t wait to see it in the spring!
Unfortunately for us, the City and its greenery department used this moment knowing that the activists would be busy, to remove trees at another location which we protested against. Another day, another battle to save the air and trees in our hometown. Let’s go activists, our work is far from done!
Gorjan Jovanovski, Environmental Activist, Founder of AirCare, TED Speaker
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