As a kid, I always dreamed that the whispering willow in my backyard had human-like features with its branches swaying about like arms. In fairy tales, this isn’t out of the ordinary, and trees often do speak. But how on earth could that be a real concept for adults? Well, Melbourne has found a way to bring this same fairy tale sensation to life, in an incredible way.
By giving their trees an ID code and email address, the Austrailian community was able to report dangerous branches falling, or possible problems with the trees and nearby parks. In 2013, each tree was addressed and since then, an “unintended but positive consequence” has blossomed as Melbourne’s Environmental Portfolio, as Councillor Arron Wood put it. People not only have started writing directly to the trees as individuals, but city officials have started receiving thousands of emails a day on behalf of the trees. Emails consist of kind words, poetry, sentimental thought, advice-seeking and even love letters. Here are some beautiful examples.
To: Golden Elm, Tree ID 1037148
21 May 2015
I’m so sorry you’re going to die soon. It makes me sad when trucks damage your low hanging branches. Are you as tired of all this construction work as we are?
To: Algerian Oak, Tree ID 1032705
2 February 2015
Dear Algerian oak,
Thank you for giving us oxygen.
Thank you for being so pretty.
I don’t know where I’d be without you to extract my carbon dioxide. (I would probably be in heaven) Stay strong, stand tall amongst the crowd.
You are the gift that keeps on giving.
We were going to speak about wildlife but don’t have enough time and have other priorities unfortunately.
Hopefully one day our environment will be our priority.
With a little luck and fairy dust, some letters have even received responses. From biology to politics, the trees have really built a path of communication with the community. It’s inspiring to see people engage and recognize the beauty within the earth around us, and I find it grounding to feel unified with microscopic daily reminders that life is beautiful.
To: Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
29 May 2015
Dear Green Leaf Elm,
I hope you like living at St. Mary’s. Most of the time I like it too. I have exams coming up and I should be busy studying. You do not have exams because you are a tree. I don’t think that there is much more to talk about as we don’t have a lot in common, you being a tree and such. But I’m glad we’re in this together.
29 May 2015
I do like living here.
I hope you do well in your exams. Research has shown that nature can influence the way people learn in a positive way, so I hope I inspire your learning.
Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
To: Willow Leaf Peppermint, Tree ID 1357982
29 January 2015
Willow Leaf Peppermint, Tree ID 1357982
Hello Mr. Willow Leaf Peppermint, or should I say Mrs. Willow Leaf Peppermint?
Do trees have genders?
I hope you’ve had some nice sun today.
30 January 2015
I am not a Mr. or a Mrs., as I have what’s called perfect flowers that include both genders in my flower structure, the term for this is Monoicous. Some trees species have only male or female flowers on individual plants and therefore do have genders, the term for this is Dioecious. Some other trees have male flowers and female flowers on the same tree. It is all very confusing and quite amazing how diverse and complex trees can be.
Mr. and Mrs. Willow Leaf Peppermint (same Tree)
Western Red Cedar, Tree ID 1058295
1 July 2015
Are you worried about being affected by the Greek debt crisis? Should Greece be allowed to stay in the European Union?
2 July 2015
I seem to remember the Greeks razed you to the ground one time – are you still angry at them?
Greece is not out of the woods yet, but may be out of the EU…Some say that they should be allowed to devalue their currency in order to recover their economy, but the EU will not allow them to do that. Some say that it is partly the austerity program, which has made it this bad. They say austerity was a disaster for Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union and for the recovery of Asia from the GFC…
I don’t know, but then I’m only a tree.
Western Red Cedar
This project gives a voice to a trusted space in nature, and I think we’ve all found solace among the trees at some point. It reminds us that every day we are surrounded by beauty and positive energy radiating from our surroundings. It forces us to slow down and see life with an unconventional spark of magic. Kids and adults alike, plants are our friends. Take care of our environment.
Featured Image via Flickr.