This was one of the headlines of all the main newspapers last 25 May 2003: "Fifteen-year-old John Williams and his seventeen-year-old friend Charles Thompson have climbed down the tree." Nothing remarkable about that, except that these two boys had climbed up the tree one month before. Why did they do that? Why did they spend one month living in an old oak in the middle of a forest in West Rainton, a little town between Sunderland and Durham, in the north-east of England?
Everything started one day when John and Charles were waiting for the bus to school. John had bought the local newspaper and he was taking a look at the main news and in one of the articles he could read that the government was planning to build a new motorway between Sunderland and Durham which would cross the forest where they and their friends used to go to play hide-and-seek and other plays when they were younger. He told Charles about it while they were getting on the bus.
When they arrived at school, everybody was talking about the new motorway and the impact that it would cause in the landscape of the town. Then, during all the lessons, they forgot about the subjects and were talking about this question all the morning. Everybody was very worried about that. John said that they had to do something to raise awareness of this fact and to protest against the construction of the motorway. Charles said that once he had read that some people had chained themselves in order to protest against something, and that they could do the same so that the construction company of the motorway couldn't enter the wood. At the end John made up his mind and told his classmates: "I know, I will climb up the biggest tree and live there, does anyone want to accompany me?" The rest of the students applauded him but nobody volunteered for the mission until Charles said that he was ready for the mission.
The two boys attracted enormous media attention while they were living in their tree house, they answered more than 150 letters and used their mobile phones to defend their right to keep on playing in that forest on radio and television. Apart from that, several journalists went there to interview them personally. Even their teachers and classmates went to their tree house twice a week so that they could keep on with lessons and they wouldn't fail their exams.
After four weeks the authorities promised to make their forest a protected area and study another route for the motorway which was far from the wood. When John and Charles had a written document with this compromise in their hands, they decided to climb down the tree.
Este era uno de los titulares de todos los principales periódicos el último día 23 de mayo de 2003: “John Williams, de quince años, y Charles Thompson, de diecisiete, han bajado del árbol”. No había nada destacable en todo ello, excepto que estos dos chicos se habían subido al árbol hacía un mes. ¿Por qué lo hicieron? ¿Por qué pasaron un mes viviendo en un roble en medio del bosque en West Raiton, una pequeña ciudad del noreste de Inglaterra entre Sunderland y Durham?
Todo empezó un día en que John y Charles estaban esperando el autobús escolar. John había comprado el periódico local y estaba echando un vistazo a las noticias principales y en uno de esos artículos pudo leer que el gobierno estaba planeando construir una nueva autopista entre Sunderland y Durham que cruzaría el bosque donde ellos y sus amigos solían ir a jugar al escondite y a otros juegos cuando eran más pequeños. Se lo contó a Charles cuando se subían al autobús.
Cuando llegaron al colegio, todo el mundo hablaba sobre la nueva autopista y el impacto que causaría al paisaje de la ciudad. Después, en todas las clases, se olvidaron de las asignaturas y estuvieron hablando sobre este problema toda la mañana. Todo el mundo dijo que estaba muy preocupado. John dijo que tenían que hacer algo para concienciar a la gente sobre este hecho y para protestar contra la construcción de la autopista. Charles dijo que una vez había leído que unas personas se habían encadenado para protestar sobre algo y que ellos podían hacer lo mismo para que la empresa constructora de la autopista no pudiera entrar en el bosque. Al final, John se decidió y les dijo a sus compañeros de clase: “Ya lo sé. Me subiré al árbol más grande y viviré allí. ¿Quiere acompañarme alguien?” El resto de estudiantes le aplaudió pero nadie se prestó como voluntario para la misión, hasta que Charles dijo que estaba preparado para ello.
Los dos muchachos atrajeron una tremenda atención de los medios de comunicación mientras estaban viviendo en su casa arbórea. Contestaron a más de 150 cartas y emplearon sus teléfonos móviles para defender su derecho de seguir jugando en ese bosque en la radio y en la televisión. Aparte de eso, varios periodistas fueron allí para entrevistarlos personalmente. Incluso sus profesores y sus compañeros de clase iban a su casa arbórea dos veces por semana para que pudieran seguir las clases y no suspendieran sus exámenes.
Después de cuatro semanas, las autoridades prometieron convertir su bosque en una zona protegida y estudiar otro trazado para la autopista que estuviera lejos del bosque. Cuando John y Charles tuvieron en sus manos un documento escrito con este compromiso, decidieron bajar del árbol.
True. The text says, “"Fifteen-year-old John Williams and his seventeen-year-old friend Charles Thompson have climbed down the tree." Nothing remarkable about that, except that these two boys had climbed up the tree one month before.”
False. According to the text,” (…) the government was planning to build a new motorway between Sunderland and Durham which would cross the forest where they and their friends used to go to play hide-and-seek. (…) John said that they had to do something to raise awareness of this fact and to protest against the construction of the motorway.”
False. As stated in the text, “(…) their teachers and classmates went to their tree house twice a week so that they could keep on with lessons and they wouldn't fail their exams.”
They spent some weeks living in a tree because they wanted to protest against a highway that was going to be built across the woods where they used to play when they were children.
Their protest had great impact: they received 150 letters of support; their protest appeared on radio and television; they were interviewed by some reporters; they made authorities to reconsider their plan and this piece of news came up in many important newspapers
Complete the following sentences. The meaning should be the same as that of the sentence above: (2 points)
After John had read the local newspaper, he decided to do some kind of protest.
The authorities are going to make the forest a protected area.
Writing. “People should have the right to protest violently against unfair decisions”: discuss. Write about 100 words. (3 points)
Although many violent protests get lots of headlines, peaceful protests are likely to be more successful in the long run. Many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today are there because people were prepared to go out on the streets and protest. That is why they are a very important part of our democratic society.
Peaceful protests are probably the most effective way to complain about a public issue. Moreover, demonstrators cannot be accused of being violent and, therefore, their arguments become more convincing.
The point of peaceful protesting is to reach as many people as possible and it often gets loads of media coverage, so more people get to hear about the campaign and often decide to support it. Furthermore, by demonstrating peacefully you often get more sympathy than acting brutally.
Protesting peacefully is a right of the public to remind politicians that they can’t just do what they want. If enough people disagree with unfair decisions then they will make their feelings known and those decisions will eventually be changed.
Curso de Acceso a Ciclos Formativos de Grado Superior Página de