Spain: Fighting Catalonia's Wild Fires

The terrifying fires that continue to devastate the Catalan comarca of Alt Empordà  (you can watch a video [cat] here),  have given way to the citizens’ initiative #1Català1Arbre, launched on Twitter by Oriol Puig (@Pumocat). [Note: #1català1abre, translates to #1catalan1tree.]

The  goal [cat] is to “create coordination, cooperation and a strong collective consciousness until the fires are extinguished.” The flames, caused by poorly crushed cigarette butts, have already killed four people and ravaged 90% of the municipal territories of BiureBoadella and Capmany.

Addressing the frustration and helplessness that many Catalan citizens have felt, #1Català1Arbre has created a space for collective action and organization to effectively deal with the fires. As of 25 July, 2012 the initiative already boasted 4,585 followers on Facebook and 2,113 on Twitter.


Logo of the #1català1arbre campaign. Source:

To get the project going, the organizers launched a blog named after Puig's hashtag, where volunteers can write. The manifesto is as follows:

Catalunya es crema, l’Empordà es crema. El context és dramàtic i la sensació d’impotència i solidaritat enorme. Per això ha nascut la iniciativa #1català1arbre.

#1català1arbre pretén crear una massa de voluntariat organitzada, gestionant tècnicament el que calgui.

#1català1arbre ha de ser un portal d’informació per entendre la problemàtica concreta de l’incendi, i poder actuar a posteriori amb totes les garanties.

La lluita activa contra les flames dels herois i heroïnes en l’anonimat, siguin Bombers, ADFs o voluntaris; l’empatia dels membres de la Creu Roja i de la gent de peu de carrer, que han condicionat pavellons arreu de la comarca per als afectats i desplaçats; la ràbia continguda per la destrucció dels nostres paratges més estimats; són el que ens ha d’empènyer a pensar i a actuar amb seny davant del què vindrà després, cal mentalitzar-se i actuar en conseqüència.

Que quedi molt clar: més enllà de l’eslògan, aquesta iniciativa vol crear coordinació, cooperació i una sòlida conscienciació col·lectiva posterior a l’extinció del foc.

Davant la tragèdia que ens ha tocat viure, #1català1arbre vol transmetre la nostra solidaritat amb el territori.

Vol reunir el major nombre de col·laboradors, amb la única finalitat d’actuar en base els consells de gent experta.

No vol anar a plantar pins on hi creixien alzines.

Vol ser una eina útil per tal de minimitzar la desgracia viscuda.

La intenció és que qualsevol acció a favor de recuperar el nostre territori, compti amb un suport massiu.

Catalonia is burning, the Empordà is burning. A lingering sense of helplessness is eminent, but so is a pervasive feeling of solidarity. This is why #1català1arbre has launched.

#1català1arbre is to create a masse of organized volunteers who can manage whatever is technically necessary.

#1català1arbre is an information portal to facilitate understanding about the specific problems of the fire and the ability to act swiftly and effectively.

The active fight against the fire by the heroes named here, be they firefighters or volunteers, the empathy of Red Cross members and concerned civilians who have set up pavilions throughout the comarca for displaced and affected individuals, the anger and frustration produced by the destruction of our beloved countryside, are all facts pushing us to think clearly in the wake of what will come, so that we may prepare ourselves mentally to act effectively.

Let it be clear: this movement is more than a slogan. It is an initiative to create coordination, cooperation and a strong collective consciousness until the fired is extinguished.

In the wake of the tragedy that has touched all our lives, #1català1arbre is to encourage solidarity throughout the territory.

We seek to organize the greatest possible number of collaborators, with the ultimate goal of acting under the supervision of experts.

This initiative isn't frivolous; we seek to be useful tool to minimize distress experienced in the wake of these fires, so that any action in favor of the recovery of our territory gets the massive support it needs and deserves.

The project immediately echoed through networks [cat], generating a wide range of tweets of interest and support:

@dave_bcn [cat]: Ara quedarà molt per fer… Col·labora!!!! #1català1arbre
@dave_bcn: There's a lot to do… collaborate!!!! #1català1arbre
@Luis_FontM [es]: Pensemos qué hacer para que no vuelva a ocurrir; presos, parados, adolescentes y universitarios con tiempo libre. #1Català1Arbre
@Luis_FontM: Let's think about what we can do so that this never happens again; prisoners, the unemployed, adolescents and students with any free time. #1Català1Arbre
@Spuisderman [cat]: Si no ho fem nosaltres, qui collons ho farà? #1Català1Arbre
@Spuisderman: If we don't do it, who the hell will? #1Català1Arbre
@annacamaca [cat]: Bon dia! Poc a poc ens anem organitzant… i cada cop en som més!#1Català1Arbre
@annacamaca: Good day! Little by little we keep organizing…and growing! #1Català1Arbre

However, the fire in the Alt Empordà and #1català1arbre have also been easy targets for netizens with anti-Catalan sentiments.

@juanfry58 [es]: A Cataluña la va a ayudar ahora su puta madre , corred independentistas , independizaros ahora hijos de puta
@juanfry58: In Catalonia they're finally getting what they need! Run fast, you separatist sons of a bitch
@_CarmenBurton [es]: El uniforme regional de Cataluña es el traje ignífugo.
@_CarmenBurton: Catalonia's regional uniform is a fireproof suit.
@juankryptonita: en vez de agua, los aviones tendrian que echar gasolina sobre cataluñaaa #putacataluña
@juankryptonita: instead of water, planes should be pouring gasoline over Catalonia #fuckingcatalonia

@Betelgeuse86 [es]: Lo de -un catalán, un arbol- se refiere a un catalán ahorcado de cada árbol, ¿no?. #1català1arbre

@Betelgeuse86: This slogan, one Catalan, one tree – they mean one Catalan hung from every tree, right? #1català1arbre
The initiative, then, isn't just a joint action to facilitate the recovery of the Empordà. It is also a massive answer to those who do not share or understand the pain that comes with the loss of natural landscapes. Therefore, the manifesto of #1català1arbre ends with the following sentence:
El foc crema, però mai prou com per cremar l’esperança.
The fire is burning, but the flames of hope are brighter.

1 comment

  • Esteve Mata

    Thanks a lot, Daniel!

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