“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Thursday, August 21st
I am on the Landscape Committee within my cohousing community. This means that I meet once a month with several other neighbors to discuss grass abuse (as in trampled terf), wayward branches, arborist fees, and compost. This month, we met to discuss trees. We have a neighbor who works for the parks system as a tree expert, and who kindly walked us around to discuss which trees could use some attention.
“Attention” is an understated term for the process by which we work. We could have a thought of pruning or removing a tree, but because we all share such a limited space it requires running those ideas by our neighbors. There is always an emotional reaction to the proposed removal of a tree. At this meeting, we settled on up to five trees that would need to either come down or get a serious haircut.
There were some strong reactions to the proposed fallings as this cohousing community enters its 20th year. There are several households who saw these trees as youngsters, not only saw them but planted them around a barren construction landscape. To them, they are as much our neighbors as the people are. And so it is living in close quarters with wildlife. The interests of these trees conflict with the needs and wants of our residents. Last year there weren’t enough climbing trees for the children and they were climbing all over the orchard trees which impacted fruit development. Last year a massive Douglas Fir was taken down because of its proximity to households. This year, the kids are playing soccer and not climbing trees which has torn up all the grass, and the trees that were in the shadow of the fir are now growing in their newfound sunlight. Life changes and evolves.
I’m glad that we are a large committee of five people. We need the varied perspectives and to be held accountable by others to act in a way that reflects the interests of all our neighbors.
What is your relationship to trees?