Monday, May 24, 2010

planters represented in mainstream culture: douglas coupland on tree planters

"The world has many wretched jobs awaiting the young, the idealistic and the gullible."

this is from a coffee table book called "souvenirs of Canada 2"

the book is shit - I bought it for this description, and this description is shit

Also in Generation X there is a character who leaves a job in a cliche "office environment" to do all kinds of weird jobs, including planting, which he calls "cult employment".

...

"I also got into cult employment, the best form of which was tree planting in the interior of British Columbia one sumemr in a not unpleasant blitz of pot and crab lice and drag races in beat up spray painted old Chevelles and Biscaynes."

...

Generation X I liked.

It was recommended to me by ex planter John Honeyman, and also, google indicates, Rollie Pemberton aka. "Cadence Weapon". In an article from CBC:

"the people who would most relate to the experiences of these characters (those of "terminal wanderlust" and the "poverty jet set," my B.C. tree-planting friends engaged in "cult employment") are least likely to read it because of some perceived notion that it's no longer relevant"

...

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale” or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

‪ The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

‪ Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

‪ Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

‪ The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

‪ The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

‪ The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

‪ The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

‪ The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

‪ The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

‪ Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

‪ The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

‪ The group is preoccupied with making money.

‪ Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

‪ Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

‪ The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

Does that sound anything like planting to you guys?

4 comments:

Eacaw said...

I would love to be a tree planter like these guys, unfoturnately I dont have the resources, so am just stuck using http://www.facebook.com/brandbang who will plant a tree for every 30,000 points I get!!

Red Maple Tree said...

This is really wonderful post. You give some rear pictures. Thank you for sharing beautiful tree.

Ronald said...

Quite an inspiring post! I personally feel that tree planters are one of the most diverse groups of people with certain winning traits such as: full of patience, quite observant, motivated, confident, independent as well as adventurous. Basically, they are the ultimate survivors.

Judyt said...

funny, that cult thing kept reminding me of religions, right down the line. All religions, any religions. Grace churches around here have everyone working in specific jobs, (gardener Michael, sweeper Mary) and anyone not in the 'faith' is excluded, to the point of ostracism by family members.
This is, beyond that, a great commentary on tree planters. I can understand the hard work involved, you really can't pick your spot, you just go and dig. Much like harvesters who follow the harvests from north to south, year after year.