7.000 Beech Trees

Acceptance Speech - Dutch Design Week - October 2016

Dear trees, dear young beech,

Welcome to the Dutch Design Week, welcome to the Parliament of Things. This meeting gives us pleasure, discomfort, hope and a language problem. To begin with the discomfort: the preconditions for a similar conversation seem far from ideal. Your silence is of a superior quality. You are here because we want to, not because you have found the way to Eindhoven and Strijp S.

That raises questions: what is this exercise more than self or group therapy? How do we provide space for a real conversation? A first answer to that question consists of the example of the bee and, secondly, the answer consists of all similarities between you, beech trees, and us humans.

First the bee, and I quote a contribution of Jasmine De Bruycker, at a previous session of Parliament.

“The bee knows exactly what he wants: apple blossom tree I must have. In this co-evolutionary deal between the bee and the apple tree, use both sides together to pursue their interests, and prove they each service: food for the bee, transport genes for the apple. ”

Maybe I’m here because you, beech tree, want it.

Then the similarities. I know you also care about the light, about drinking water and feeding your descendants. You also exchange information with your family and friends. You also have senses, and even a lot more than men. And like my family traveling through Europe for centuries.


We are not here in the Parliament of Things to express love to each other. Everyone eats everyone. We stand in this House to do business, To exchange ideas, to define shared interests, to forge alliances.

Today, in this Parliament, we start to invent rules with each other, to carry the political conversation. To get started, we, Joost Janmaat and Thijs Middeldorp, accept the guardianship of you, 7,000 beech trees.

As guardians we:

  • Search for good soil for you, with a residence permit of at least 250 years;
  • Examine the pros and cons of guardianship and report to the Parliament;
  • Make choices that benefit your family and community.

Joost Janmaat: This I declare and promise

Thijs Middeldorp: This I declare and promise

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