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Response to Cattledog (Original post)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 09:10 AM

15. Whether new or old materials are used, better stewardship is needed

 

I first heard the story of the Oxford Oaks from the ecological designer William McDonough, I believe, back in the late 1990's at one of the Bioneers Conferences. Charlotte Hajer writes it here:
http://blog.longnow.org/02014/12/31/humans-and-trees-in-long-term-partnership/

Here at Long Now, we often like to tell the story – or perhaps better said, legend – of the oak beams at New College in Oxford. First told to Stewart Brand by anthropologist Gregory Bateson, this short and simple story epitomizes the tremendous value we can reap from some long-term thinking.

Despite what the name may suggest, New College is one of Oxford’s oldest. Founded in 01379, at its heart lies a dining hall that features expansive oak beams across its ceiling. About a century ago, an entomologist discovered that the beams were infested with beetles and would need replacing. The College agonized over where they might find oaks of sufficient size and quality to make new beams. Then, as Stewart Brand recounts,

One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be some worthy oaks on the College lands. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country which are run by a college Forester. They called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked him if there were any oaks for possible use.

He pulled his forelock and said, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”

Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for over five hundred years saying “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”


The link goes into greater detail, separating likely myth from recorded history. It's worth a read in this day and age.

k&r,

-app

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