My 7-Year Old Daughter: The Activist

A few months I attended our strata AGM, where we discussed various needs of the community. One of them is landscaping – we have several small problems with waterlogging and…kids trampling the flowers. It was agreed that we would pull up a magnolia bush that had grown to the size of a tree, to replant the area.

We told the kids: your branch hang out is terminal! and thought nothing else of it.

A couple of weeks later, Lola asked me

“Do you think we should chop down trees?”

“Well,” I replied, “it depends. You need to chop down trees to make paper etc. but generally, no, I like trees.”

“Yes, I agree. We should keep trees. We asked some people on the street whether we should chop down trees and the results were as follows: Chop down trees 2, Don’t chop down trees, 16.”

I looked quizzical. Hmm, interesting question to ask, aren’t the kids cool!?

It was only after another week or so that she revealed the truth. She had been asking the question of kids and adults, parents and strata members(!), so she could build a case to SAVE THE MAGNOLIA TREE!

Genius.

Then, a couple of weeks later, at a playdate at nearby friends, the group decided to make a poster that could be hung in the strata. Beautifully constructed, with a moving poem to boot:

I am the tree of this complex

Please don’t cut me down

The children play in my branches

Please don’t cut me down

I watched your children grow

Please don’t cut me down

I am friends with your children

Please don’t cut me down

I want to bloom where I was planted

Please don’t cut me down

Beautiful.

IMG_0782They built a plastic box – waterproofed! – with a vote mechanism with that same simple question. Of course, you know the result of the vote…to keep the tree.

We have reached the end game now. The vote is finished, the results have been shared with the strata council, who with good grace accepted the findings. The tree will still come down.

Many people might say I am exactly missing the point about activism – that one’s fight for right didn’t change the result. But I don’t actually care about that, not this time. Today, I care that my thoughtful, caring Lola, seven years of empathy and reflection – saw that she should speak up, that she should take action.

What a delightful, powerful experience to watch. I was not the only person to be impressed. The local French language CBC interviewed her to capture that same power in purpose.

The audio link is half way down this page.

It is worth noting, neither of her parents mentioned the idea to defend the tree. She asked for no support or input. She took it on for herself. We were as surprised as we were delighted.

It shows the power and genius of childhood, the potential within all of us to make a profound difference in our own lives and those of our community. We are all activists.

←This Much We Know.→

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