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Debt Justice: Tree of Memory and Hope

Ruth Tetlow shares:

“On Wednesday January 24th a group of Debt Justice staff and supporters gathered in the City Centre Park in Birmingham, to commemorate the extraordinary Human Chain of about 70,000 people who gathered around the city centre 25 years earlier in 1998, as part of the global jubilee campaign.

It resulted in the cancellation of $130 billion of unjust debt held by the governments of poor countries, and led to significant improvements in healthcare and education for their people. You may have been there.

As a lasting memorial we planted a ginkgo tree, thanks to the support of Birmingham Tree People and the City Council.

The ginkgo tree has beautiful leaves which are celebrated symbols of hope, strength and resilience. They turn golden yellow in autumn and have a distinctive shape. It is native to SE Asia where it can live to over 1000 years old and is considered ‘a living fossil’, as its existence has been traced back to before the Mesozoic Era. It will be a beautiful feature of the City Centre Park and the plaque will remind people of the Human Chain.

On a lovely sunny winter morning we were delighted that the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr John Cotton came to give his support and to help plant the tree, together with Heidi Chow, Director of Debt Justice. (Both appear in the photo above.) We were also very pleased to see Matt, Skye and Eva from the staff of Debt Justice, who recorded the event. Photos and further details can be seen on the Debt Justice website. John Cotton made a short speech, the text of which is attached.

After planting the tree we went across to the Council House for coffee and shared further memories from John Nightingale, Rachel Stephens, Stephen Rand and others.” A podcast of the event has been produced by the Birmingham journalist Adrian Goldberg. This can be found HERE.


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