Once upon a time, long, long ago in a land not far from here, there lived a Queen. Her name was Queen Chrystal. The land was large, rich and prosperous and the population was growing. The people in this land lived comfortably in large houses with large windows. Outsiders nicknamed this land as ‘the Land of Glass’. The Queen ruled this land solely, she had no husband, and no children. When a minister asked her if she didn’t feel lonely, she responded:
“I love my people as I would a husband, and I look after my people as they were my own children”
Although not all was well…
To keep their large glass houses warm, every year after the harvest season, people went into the forest to cut down trees to use as firewood. From her hilltop castle, Queen Chrystal saw the forest getting smaller each year. The glass houses needed more firewood than the forest could supply, and the people struggled more each year to stock their winter supplies. The trip to the forest got longer and transport back to the city became increasingly difficult. The horses grew tired and carts got stuck in the mud. “Something has to change”, thought the Queen. “The most skilled tradesmen are stuck in the mud to get firewood”.
Then, she had an idea: We have to renovate the city! We brick up all North facing windows, use the sun to heat our houses, hang up heavy gauged curtains to keep the heat in at night and make sure the open fire places will be replaced by efficient heaters.
With this plan in hand, she summoned her ministers.
“But Majesty, this is not possible. We need our skilled tradesmen to chop the wood” spoke the minister of arborists.
“And we need our skilled people to drag those carts out of the mud” said the minister of roads.
“It is part of our culture, every year there are hundreds of foreign tourists to see our glass houses” said the minister of housing.
“Ah yeah” continued the labor minister “our people aren’t able to do that, we only teach them how to cut down trees”.
“So we cannot execute my plan?” asked the Queen.
“No, impossible!!” shouted the ministers in sync.
“Well, then I’ve heard enough” said Queen Chrystal.
After this conversation the Queen called on Knight Jan.
“Knight Jan” started the Queen “I want you to gather all the strong, smart skilled workers we have and re-train them into bricklayers, seamsters and heater-craftsmen. But how do we reach these people? They are always in the forest or in between”
“Each morning before sunrise, they gather on the market square in a village halfway between the city and the forest” knew Knight Jan. “There, they divide the work and set out with their carts into the forest. They also stock up on axes and saws on that market.”
“Very well” said the Queen. “Knight Jan, make sure you reach those people tomorrow early in the morning and get those people re-trained. I expect a report on your progress next week.”
That night, knight Jan took on his horse to the village square. Whilst riding he prepared a speech. At the market square he rung the market bell and started…
The Queen wants to renovate the glass city. The annual gathering of the firewood is becoming too laboursome and time consuming. You are away from your families for too long. On this market square I will build a school and re-train you into bricklayers, seamsters and heater-craftsmen.” While he spoke more and more, people gathered around and listened while holding their breath. Knight Jan continued, “When you are re-trained, we will go back home and renovate the city, house by house. Your families will be pleased, the house owners will be pleased, and you will be pleased for you do not need to get the fire wood any longer.”
It was dead-silent. Knight Jan was preparing for applause. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, put forth his chest and was ready to receive the cheers.
“Booooh, boooooh!!!”. Everybody was yelling, shouting and there was a great kerfuffle.
“You aren’t allowed to build on the market square” said the market keeper.
“I just made a new batch of axes” yelled the blacksmith “Now I can close shop!”
“We are only allowed to chop wood from our wood chopping guild” shouted the wood-choppers.
“You are too late” added the trades merchants. “We will be fined when we don’t supply a sufficient amount of firewood. We have renewed contracts with the Queen.”
Knight Jan fell quiet and went away to the local Inn. Disappointed he sat at the bar. How was this possible? A reasonable plan which would benefit everyone and no one wants to cooperate?
The Inn keeper, who has witnessed the whole thing, went to him and said:
“there, there, don’t give up. I understand these people. Go and talk to them, listen to what they have to say, and come up with a solution. Then it will all work out fine. They are right, you are not allowed to build on the market square, but you could use my great hall to use as a school. You know the Queen right? Make sure she doesn’t renew the contracts with the merchants.”
With the council of the Inn keeper in his mind, Knight Jan spoke with everybody about their concerns and found a solution.
When Knight Jan returned after a year instead of after a week at the Queens castle, the Queen was furious! “A full year!?” she shouted “You have been away for a whole year. All you had to do is go to the market to re-train everyone. How hard could that be!?”
Knight Jan calmly explained to the Queen all the work he has done. The Queen understood it was hard to convince everyone.
From that moment on, the city slowly changed. There was building going on, the forest started to regrow and the skilled people were busier than ever, but didn’t have to work long days in the dark forest, being away from home for weeks on end.
But what about these tourists from faraway lands you might wonder? They still came. More than ever actually, but not for the glass houses anymore. From then on they came and looked at the beautiful drapes.