Perry Walker (who lives between Hereford & Berlin) writes:

In part of Berlin called Wedding, next to a polluted main road, stands a small patch of ground. It is both very ordinary and highly remarkable. Ordinary because in its mix of trees, shrubs and plants it looks like many another overgrown plot. Highly remarkable because the More Than Humans that inhabit this soil influence what happens there.

How on earth? They do so through a Parliament of Organisms. Each year, 15 species, two or three per category, are chosen to take part in the parliament, using a home-made lottery machine. The nightingale is one of the birds to be selected this year, for instance. Alongside appealing species like birds, bugs and bacteria also have their say. A human is then chosen to represent each of these species. (Humanity, by the way, has not so far been one of the species chosen for representation.)

Fifteen stools in the middle of this woodland show where the parliament meets. An audience is welcome and can join the discussion, though only the representatives can vote. The session begins with the ‘rather complicated’ hymn of the parliament. Here are a few of the issues that have been covered:

  • Should humans be allowed to forage on the site? Answer: yes, provided that foragers follow the principles of the Honourable Harvest developed by Robin Wall Kimmerer. These principles include: Use everything that you take. Take only that which is given to you. Share it, as the Earth has shared with you. Be grateful.
  • The manager of a supermarket behind this tract of land said it would make an ideal thoroughfare for his trucks. Could it be swapped for a more open piece of land behind the supermarket? This was enthusiastically supported by the representative of a light-loving plant. But the other representatives voted against.
  • Each year, the land accepts three ‘asylum species’ that are having to move because their usual habitat has been disrupted. The parliament discusses which species to welcome.

The parliament is not the only element of this particular ecosystem. There is a constitution, and a Declaration of the Rights of Organisms. If a species feels that its rights have been affected by a decision of the parliament, there is a court to which it can appeal.

Pretty impressive for a piece of ground comprising only 800 square meters!

To find out more, visit Berlin : Club Real or