Charlottesville City Council is troubled over the destiny of local trees. Born of this concern is the Charlottesville Tree Commission, an advisory body charged with assisting councilors in: reviewing hazardous trees; informing the public of the city’s tree preservation efforts; engaging the youth; developing a street tree master list; and maintaining a tree inventory.

A December 20, 2010 city staff report on the proposed commission states:

The intent of the Tree Commission will be to protect the City’s aesthetic quality by preserving and monitoring all trees located on public right-of-ways and public property. The Commission will promote an atmosphere of concerned, educated citizens working towards enhancing the diversity and health of the Charlottesville tree canopy.

To administer these critical tasks, council has designated, among others, the following seats at the Commission roundtable:

Four seats will be reserved for: City Arborist, Planning Commission member, representative from the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, or its successor organization, and representative of Blue Ridge Permaculture Institute [sic], or its successor organization. The remaining three seats will be appointed at large. [Emphasis added.]

Since the city presently employs an official arborist, Tim Hughes—who is paid more than $72,000 per year by Charlottesville taxpayers—it is unclear why the Commission is necessary in the first place.

But details aside, is there a hidden agenda behind the formation of the Charlottesville Tree Commission?

Yes, and it emanates from Democrat Dave Norris (a rabid eco-socialist) and his expressed conceptual infatuation with “the commons,” a worldwide Marxist-collectivism movement.

“Norris The Red” waxed eloquent on proliferation of “the commons” in his January 7, 2008 inaugural Mayoral address (transcript courtesy of Charlottesville Tomorrow):

“One of the things I really appreciate about Charlottesville is that it’s a community that really values the commons.   The idea of the commons.  We have wonderful public spaces here in Charlottesville.  The Downtown Mall, the Lawn at UVA, and parks and trails.  We have world class arts and entertainment venues.  We have high end boutiques and shopping areas and restaurants.  We have world class athletic facilities, recreational amenities, festivals and events.  And I think that the question that we have to ask ourselves, and the question that I am going to be asking myself in the next two years is, ‘How expansive is our vision and our understanding of the commons? How can we broaden our definition of the commons?  Whose interests aren’t being served today? Whose voices aren’t being heard today?  Whose cries for help aren’t being heeded today?’

“I think our challenge it to really render visible ‘that’ and ‘they’ who are currently invisible in our public discourse.  And I include in that many people who don’t get discussed enough, whose struggles don’t get discussed nearly enough in the work of this body and in the work of this Community.  I think of all the young people that drop out of high school before crossing the stage on graduation day.  Middle class families that can’t afford to live here [or] live anywhere near here anymore.  Children who grew up without enough positive role models to help them make good decisions in their lives.  Moms who are working two or three jobs to keep up with the rent and stay one step ahead of the collection agent.  Our elderly and our disabled who are struggling to get by on fixed incomes.  And I think we also have to continue to expand our vision of the commons to include the air and the water around us, and the trees and the wildlife, the other natural amenities that we are surrounded by.” [Emphasis added.]

Norris’s embrace of “the commons” (and his implied disdain for private property) explains an intriguing mandated inclusion on the Tree Commission: the Blue Ridge Permaculture Institute (an entity of the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network or BRPN).

Though its title sounds benign, BRPN’s goals and permaculture’s foundational principles are anything but.

The Network’s web site is littered with references to Marxist concepts like “sustainability,” “social change,” and “urban planning,” but these progressive buzzwords are deceptively cloaked in gladdening language—a veiled attempt to assure readers of the Network’s worthy intentions. Predictably, Karl Marx, himself, is not cited.

In spite of that conspicuous omission, Marx and permaculture intricately are linked. Barry Healy, writing for Australia’s “Green Left,” connects the dots between the two in an article entitled Permaculture and Marxism:

It is often thought that concern for the interconnection of living systems is a modern development. But Karl Marx’s talked about it repeatedly throughout his Capital.

Marx didn’t use the word “ecology” — it was coined in 1866 — but metabolism. He argued that capitalist accumulation shatters basic processes of ecological sustainability “by destroying the circumstances surrounding [natural] metabolism”. Marx called this “metabolic rift”. So, he said, what is needed is the “systematic restoration [of natural metabolism] as a regulating law of social reproduction”.

In other words: farming and other productive activities have to restore the ecological balance, and this can only really be achieved under a system where people and the environment come before profits — socialism. [Emphasis added.]

Healy’s piece continues by praising “socialist Cuba” for its advances in permaculture, promulgating the communist nation as a model for all humanity. Presumably, that would include Charlottesville.

But beyond its forthcoming assault on private property rights under pretense of “protecting” trees (a practice already established by the Charlottesville Planning Commission), more sinister dichotomy exists in the formation of the Charlottesville Tree Commission and through the propagation of its symbology. The panel’s embodiment represents an affront to the most basic human right: life.

The Charlottesville City Council never has seen fit to establish a “commission” on the defense of human babies residing in the womb (sadly, a most vulnerable location). This is in spite of ongoing, rampant and wanton destruction of the unborn in Charlottesville—often justified, and even celebrated here by secular and religious pro-death apologists.

While trees are a critical natural resource and a valuable commercial product—in both forms, important to human life—unborn babies are human life. Without human beings to enjoy and consume trees and their byproducts, the trees are of no value.

Thus, as Marxist theory:

  1. Promotes collectivism while diminishing the intrinsic value of private property, and;
  2. Promotes environmentalism while diminishing the intrinsic value of human life,

so, too, does the Charlottesville City Council, led by Mayor Norris.

What is valued by elected representatives (and what is not), speaks volumes on the character of a community. In Charlottesville, Virginia the message is clear: “the commons” is esteemed, but we despise private property; we revere trees, but unborn babies are disposable. Norris’s latest benevolent-sounding green-scheme ultimately is not about protecting trees. Rather, it is about promoting a vast, insidious Marxist agenda of broadening government power, undermining liberty-critical property rights, equating flora and human significance, and further deprecating unborn human life.

In his rhapsodic 2008 Mayoral discourse on “the commons,” Norris rhetorically ponders: “Whose voices aren’t being heard today?  Whose cries for help aren’t being heeded today?”

Granted, those are important questions, but far more critical are the answers to those inquiries. Perhaps it’s not the trees crying out, Mayor Norris, but rather, the voices you hear—those calling you to action— are those of defenseless, endangered unborn.

Vive la trees!


  1. The reasoning behind this column seems to be that if Marx was for something, conservatives should be against it. So although one would think protecting the environment would be a no-brainer, in fact conservatives should oppose government efforts to protect it. The principle of opposition to “big” government should trump environmental concerns.

    reviewing hazardous trees; informing the public of the city’s tree preservation efforts; engaging the youth; developing a street tree master list; and maintaining a tree inventory

    Which of those things, none of which would appear to cost the city any money, do any harm?

    Since the city presently employs an official arborist, Tim Hughes—who is paid more than $72,000 per year by Charlottesville taxpayers—it is unclear why the Commission is necessary in the first place.

    In other words, if the city hires one person for a job, he should be definition be able to do it himself with volunteer help, and volunteer help is bad.

    Without human beings to enjoy and consume trees and their byproducts, the trees are of no value.

    1) They’re of value to God, who created them.

    2) God commanded Adam and Eve to watch over creation.

    3) The city of Charlottesville isn’t exactly anti-baby. It doesn’t exactly threaten the survival of the human species by allowing an abortion clinic within city limits.

    4) History shows that wise action often takes collective effort.

    5) Privileging one thing (the common environment) over another (private property) doesn’t mean you love the one and despise the other. That’s basic logic.

  2. Thanks, Stratton. I appreciate your addition to the discussion.

    I used the collectivism link because it included the following description of the commons:


    Since collectivism is a very broad category, it is very difficult to define what exactly constitutes a “collectivist” position on a certain issue. However, generally speaking, collectivism in the field of economics holds that capital and land should be owned by the group (and presumably used for the benefit of all) rather than being owned by individuals. Central to this view is the concept of the commons, as opposed to private property. Often, collectivists argue that many (perhaps all) valued commodities are public goods, and are difficult to, or should not be privatized, such as environmental goods, national defense, law enforcement and information goods.

    Relying on individual choice for the provision of public goods is seen to lead to market failure and the free rider problem. Collective action, enforced by authorities, social pressure or coercion, is thus seen to be the only reliable means of ensuring a supply of a public good.

  3. Not living in Charlottesville, I do not see and experience what Marxist mayor Norris is all about. If there is anyone who doesn’t think Norris is a purebred Marxist, just to let you know, he has sent two of his jack booted thug detectives to my house to attempt to squelch me personally. If Marxism comes full bore to America, you can bet, Norris will be on the team to fill ditches with the bodies of dead people shot attempting to squelch his and obama’s Marxism. Just a fact of life people. Just a fact of life.

  4. Has been awhile Rob since I had communicated with you regarding your then Mayor, Marxist Dave Norris. I have personally felt the brunt of his dedicated Marxist ways. Thank God that Norris is no longer the Mayor of Charlottesville. Norris is truly a Marxist punk as is President oboofer.

    Like obama, Norris feels he can run roughshot over America's Constitution and our Bill of Rights. While he has attempted to put the fear of God in me, I laugh at his worthess Marxist ways. Norris had sent two of his miniuns to my home adress outside of the Charlottesville metro area. Their presence on my property was truly a Marxist style intimidation intended to keep me quiet. As far as I am concerned, the little punk boy Marxist woosey Norris, will experience my freedoms and rights. Any further attempt by the little woosy punk boy Marxist to shut me up will be met with a deafning roar. Like most worthless pieces of scumbag Marxist such as himself, they are merely pathetic, unhappy people who can only attempt to take down America. They will fail. Norris is a piece of worthless trash who seems more like a cranky two year child in wet panties. Norris, kiss my AZZ you wussy punk Marxist.

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