Friday, August 20, 2010

Session - Borders, Boundaries, and Crossing Over

As a student assistant with the ALECC conference, my real motivation for attending this session was pure curiosity about an academic paper on treeplanting. Janis Ledwell-Hunt in, "The treeplanters landscape; An ecology of clear cuts, "tree sluts" and "manufactured bears", touched on planting as a subculture where members embrace their outsider/renegade status. As such, I am ever curious (even in my retirement from planting) of how planting discourse extends into dominant and academic cultures, of how we are perceived and presented by others and by ourselves. I am a 4 year veteran planter of over 600,000 trees. Within the subculture of planting I, like the speaker, Janis Ledwell-Hunt, am an Alberta planter and hi-baller.

Some significant points were raised during the Q&A that linked themes from last nights plenary with ideas from this session. How and why is the relationship between planters and the Silviculture industry different than fishers and scientific management of the Newfoundland fisheries, as discussed by Dean Bavington, and rural farmers and agriculture/animal sciences, as discussed by Melissa Kleind. I strongly agree with Janis Ledwell-Hunt that planters' motivations are more in line with the interests of the silviculture industry as a whole, that is, to make money with few concerns about the future of the trees planted and ecological impact of treeplanting (of which we are fully aware).

The most significant difference, however, between fishers, farmers and planters is in the relationship between worker/workplace and home. Hearing Melissa Kleindl speak about her father's farm and the relationship between home and industry is a marked difference from planters who often work thousands of kilometers away from home in temporary camps trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of a season and get home (get in, get out ethic).

As a semi-retired planter who now does all of my planting within 200 km of my adopted home in Cape Breton, my planting ethics have shifted somewhat from capitalist self-interest to concerns about local economic, environmentally and socially sustainable practices. Because when I go home at night, rather than to a dirty, muddy bush camp, cook my own meals and sleep in my own bed, these concerns are more important than "cream shows", highballing and slutting them in.

For more funky treeplanter slang please see the planting forums on

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