It’s tribal, darling

Yesterday I spent the day in the Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center setting up for the TCI Expo which kicks off today. Well, truth be told most of the time I spent drinking coffee and meeting and chatting with people while we waited for the union guys to set up the Teufelberger booth. For the record though, I did help Taylor piece together the DMM truss…

One of the things that always fascinates me about these trade shows is the non-verbal communication which goes on during them. The sociologist Paul Watzlawick famously coined the phrase that you cannot not communicate in his five axiomes in the theory of communication, describing how at some level we are in a constant state of communication from the moment we are born.

I know that a good percentage of the folk rolling up for the show in the next three days will do so in chainsaw or climbing apparel, work or climbing boots or other arb paraphernalia. Which always amuses me as often as not the one thing these venues are completely lacking in is trees, so if you came prepared for anything… you are in for a disappointment. But I do not thing that is what this is about, rather it seems to me to be signalling a tribal affiliation, communicating who or what you are in the arborist community.

My intent is by no means to poke fun at anyone, I realise that I am equally guilty of this. I think what I find interesting about it is that it is such a startling juxtaposition: the sterile, totally artificial environment of these convention centres forming a stark contrast to equipment and attire usually put to work in a natural, outdoor environment. It is also of course a comment on our need to define and affiliate ourselves with one tribe or another – which just goes to show how hardwired some behavioural patterns are in our brains, even after all the millennia since we, as a species, left the African savannah behind us…

Nothing is the new something

Last week we were pruning a large willow, it was Friday, it was raining and I was annoyed with the tree which turned out to be more of a fiddle than I had anticipated.

As was almost to be expected one of the long willow limbs hit the ground point-first, rebounded and gave the front of the Hilux, which I thought I had parked sufficiently far away, a good solid old whack. Grrrr. To my relief one of the employees of the council we were working for took a quick look and shouted up that everything was ok – nothing had happened, no damage.

Well… shortly upon leaving the site I could not help but noticing that this was maybe a somewhat optimistic assessment of the situation…

Having said that, I suppose, when saying “nothing” had happened it is all down to what you define as “something”. What is you reference point? I suppose if the image below were “something”, then agreed, the above is “nothing”… or at least “less”.

This got me thinking about in this way you could simply mentally erase those niggling little damages:

Me: “Oh, ’tis but a scratch, madame”

Client: “But… that branch is sticking out of the insulation of the building!”

Me: “Pfff”

This is probably not going to fly. I think I will stick with trying to do better, trying to avoid preventably damage and striving to make new mistakes rather than repeating old ones.

Oh, and replace the windscreen on the Hilux.