DES-ESPOIRS /// (lack of) nature in town

Collective press release 19.07.2022 - translated from the French. The title is a play on words that can mean both 'Some hope' or 'Lack of hope/desperation'.

We have the choice between collective action or collective suicide, it depends on each of us!

Who are we?
Simply committed citizens who have decided to use artivism (the point of convergence between art and activism) to raise awareness among the public and the authorities of the urgency to act, not tomorrow, but today, to fight at our scale against the threats linked to climate breakdown.

Observation: Humanity is in danger
June 2022 was the second warmest month on record in Geneva. On Monday 18 July 2022, at 3pm, the mercury stood at 38 degrees in the neighbourhood of Les Pâquis. Today, Tuesday 19 July, temperatures here are expected to be even higher. According to António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, half of humanity is now in a danger zone, threatened by floods, droughts, hurricanes, forest fires... No nation or country is safe. And yet, nothing in our behaviour changes, we continue to feed our dependence on fossil fuels.

While these increasingly suffocating heatwaves assault our cities. While today, more than ever, the lack of nature and especially of trees in the city is felt, here is what André Hermant, French architect and urban planner, said:

"With more strength and purity than the most beautiful human edifice, the tree gives us an example of perfect balance between function, structure, form and action: exactitude and harmony that are called beauty."

Trees and vegetation as a lifeline
Vegetation creates natural shade and coolness in cities and is the lungs of the city (a planted roof or green space reduces the surrounding temperature by 5 degrees) and is a simple, common-sense way to combat the stifling heat of our urban centres. Despite the pious wishes of the authorities, nothing concrete is being done, no profound and real change is taking place. On the contrary, new roads and traffic routes continue to be planned. Inertia seems to guide the lack of decision, courage and political vision.

We want to propose alternatives and another way of seeing and acting, today, this morning, right now. The citizens of Geneva are almost unanimous in their support for the greening of our city and for the planting of trees: to make more room for nature, to the detriment of tar and bitumen.

First act: Meet this morning at dawn (6am) at the Rotonde du Mont-Blanc (at the level of 15, quai du Mont Blanc) for an artivist commemoration in memory of the clandestine tree that left too soon and the void left in its place. The aim is to show the scale of this tree, if it had been able to grow and become adult. To draw on the ground the trunk and its branches, the canopy, the shadow that could have been. To describe, in a simple and clear way, the potential of this tree that is no longer there.  Its ghost, its trace, the void it leaves.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Acher, Frédéric Favre, Yannis La Macchia, Claude Marthaler

What this tree could have been -

French name : Aulne de Corse
Latin name : Alnus cordata
Mature height : up to 15 m
Mature width : up to 8m
Pyramidal shape. Withstands drought. Provides food for birds. Heart-shaped deciduous leaves.

Happy City Lab - 50 rue Rothschild - 1202 Geneva - Switzerland