Reflecting upon ETCC 2017

To be honest, for for a number of reasons, I travelled up to Netherlands for the European Tree Climbing Competition beginning of the week before last feeling a bit disheartened. This was a bit of a first, as in the past I have always simply looked forwards to ETCC. Once on sight though, face to face with the set-up crew and the ETCCOC folk, I could not help but to be infected by the buzz which builds prior to such an event. It is a long build-up, starting in autumn of the year before, requiring a lot of pushing, overcoming of doubts and frustrations – and of course every time you are working with a new group of people in the host chapter, posing a unique set of challenges every time.

But I think it is fair to say that the efforts by all involved paid off. ETCC 2017 was all I could have hoped it to be.

Sheeesh… Mark harping on about the comps – again, you say?

Well, I think what I find so interesting about such events, is that you can plan all you want, but this does not make for an event that necessarily feels good. I am interested in the moment that the event gains a soul – and why. When strangers start interacting with strangers, when the whole thing starts to flow and create its own dynamic movement forwards.

Part of how this happens has to do with many people investing their time, effort, energy and creativity. Not because they have to, but because they want to, because of a vision of a common greater good, a shared belief. In this case, that belief would be expressing climbers’ culture within the greater arboriculture.

Only if we manage to make these events feel inclusive, welcoming and authentic, are we achieving what we set out to do: to convey the essence of what tree care can be, to show the fascination of moving around in a canopy, to showcase the skills involved. This is a far call away from being simply about winning or losing, about power or influence, there are enough examples of this mind-set out there in the world without us having to add a further one to it. I believe we can set a counter-point to this mentality, where we demonstrate how cooperation, mindfulness and diligence can be combined into a very exciting and dynamic mixture.

This is what I find interesting about this kind of event: it reflects all of its constituent elements, every contribution is meaningful and will have an effect on the whole.

ETCC 2017 was a cracker, so if you were there, give yourself a pat on the back. Your efforts were appreciated and registered. And if you weren’t there? Well, there is always a next time.

Photos courtesy of Stihl/ Smaragd Medien GmbH