Tree-hugging pandemic therapy, home-delivered litter. What will governments do next?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 20, 2020

Photo: Pixabay

In August, this blog explored “unique” government jobs that push up against the category of weird. These include Puppy Webcam GuruProfessional sleeper and Chicago’s Census Cowboy.

Well, now we’ll be looking at the weirdest government stories of the year, which is to say the strangest things done by officials at a federal, state or local level in various countries around the world.

The 25-item list was originally compiled by the UK startup Apolitical, which describes itself as a “peer-to-peer learning platform for government”. This means it’s probably well qualified to compile such a list. Click here to read the whole thing or take in five of the strangest government initiatives in the world below:

** Iceland has an official tree-hugging technique to cope with pandemic-era loneliness. The country’s forestry service offered the advice – complete with photos – on best practice for getting up close and personal with a tree. Thor Thorfinnsson, forest manager for East Iceland, laid it out as follows: “It’s good to close your eyes while hugging a tree. I press my cheek against it and feel the warmth and currents flowing from the tree into me…it starts in your toes, runs up your legs and through your body into your brain. You get such a good relaxing feeling that are ready for a new day and new challenges”.

** A suburb of Costa Rica’s capital granted citizenship to bees and plants. Curridabat municipality, now known as “Ciudad Dulce” or Sweet City has re-imagined urban planning and is treating green spaces as infrastructure and biodiversity as part of the essential ecosystem.

** All the camels in the Sahara…The European Union gave 250 camels to Mauritania to deal with the jihadist threat even though the northwest African country – a large swath of which is desert or semi-desert – has quite enough dromedaries already. What it really needed perhaps was high-tech radar and surveillance equipment.

** This American state is loaded…down with ridicule. South Dakota coined the following slogan: “Meth. We’re on it”. It was meant to suggest that the state was dealing with its rampant methamphetamine addiction but instead, hilariously, said something quite different entirely.

** Rubbish, said Thailand, take yours with you. Campers in the country’s national park received – by post – the trash they had left behind. The Thai authorities are trying to crack down on the problem posed by littering. They devised a solution that stands head and shoulders above other anti-litter government initiatives anywhere in the world in terms of memorableness. Most initiatives normally end up being junked.