A special Gingko Biloba tree was planted today, in the City Centre Gardens, to celebrate the 11-mile-long human chain that circled Birmingham on 16th May 1998, organised by the Debt Justice Coalition. 70,000 people changed the world, as $130 billion of debt was cancelled because of this mass protest, with buses bringing campaigners from Europe.
The commemorative plaque reads: “Debt Justice Birmingham group played a significant role in the golden jubilee debt campaign that won $130 billion debt relief for lower income countries. Here, on 16 May 1998, 70,000 people surrounded a global leaders’ summit to create pressure for change.”
Debt Justice is our first Treemembrance planting!
Ruth (original member) and Richard Tetlow, part of the organisation, liaised with Birmingham TreePeople to plant a commemorative tree under the Treemembrance programme, to honour that day and the greatness that was achieved. Rachel Stevens, a 90-year-old campaigner was in attendance, along with Matt Gardener of Debt Justice current staff, John Nightingale who raised £2,000 for the campaign and the current Birmingham branch Chair, David Nicholls also of Debt Justice and a Smethwick Labour Councillor, Izzy Knowles local Councillor for Moseley, John Cotton (who participated in 1998) of Birmingham City Council who planted the tree, Heidi Chow the current Head of the Debt Justice Campaign, and many others up towards 50 people in attendance!
Let’s not forget the crew that helped organise the logistics of the event! Julianne Statham BTP Trustee for Treemembrance, and Ian McDermott BTP Trustee and Trainer. Emma McAuliffe of BCC, the digging and planting team Jez and Kam. As well as everyone behind the scenes who pulled together to make this day a truly fantastic celebration.
Julianne, who provided the images and captions, said,
“With the Gingko’s reputation for long living, it will serve as a lasting memorial to the power of ordinary people, to be able to change the world.”