“The Complicated Politics Of Tree Loving” by Tami Boehle-Satterfield


“Tree” by Abraham Fisher https://www.artdoxa.com/fisherdoxa/large?page=2

A neighbor posted on a social neighborhood network about a very old tree on a nearby property that was up for sale. He is concerned that the potential new buyers might want to take the tree down due to its location on the property. He is proposing to the neighborhood that we attempt to ensure the life of the tree by placing it on the historic registrar. He is not certain of the tree’s age, variety, or health; the property for sale in which the tree stands has not sold, but he declares himself a tree lover and reasons himself defender of the tree.

Today the tree stands today open to his appreciation. The threat he defends against is imaginary. None of us, no matter what stance we take on the tree, can determine it’s future. We can’t know all the possible scenarios for the tree into the future. Will it be susceptible to disease, is it already compromised, will an act of nature harm its integrity, will the new owners cut it down or build their lives around it? The possibilities are endless. They are literally infinite. My neighbor can’t control the fate of the tree and in his attempt he compromises the trust and respect and risks offense in the assumption that he has some right or privilege for control. He is well meaning, I suppose, but all the same he steps mindlessly, trespasses even into space that is not solely his, competing instead of collaborating in the collective space that is not singularly his space.

Respecting the space is complex and involves thought that is inclusive. What would it be like instead if he spoke personally with the new owners in order to influence their decision regarding the tree? Could he feel good about the outcome knowing that he spoke in favor of the tree, but ultimately left the tree and the folks living with the tree to decide? In ignorance, he makes an assumption that he knows best and disregards the very thing he is suggesting we all respect – space.

I think he misunderstands that his motivation is more about his desire to control his environment and less about his love for the tree. What do you think?

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