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Earth to humans: "I can't breathe!" Tree planters rush in as first responders.

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Did Eric Garner plant trees? That is a question on a lot of people's minds as a poem about Garner sweeps the metaverse: "A small needful fact" by poet Ross Gay posits the notion that Garner, working in the horticulture department for Parks & Rec., most likely planted trees -- he planted life; he nurtured life; he brought life into being, from the soil into the sunlight, and enabled that new life to breathe oxygen into the stale atmosphere of a choking city. That Garner's last breath was taken from him by force only magnifies his generosity in providing oxygen to his fellow citizens.

As storm clouds gather literally and metaphorically around our home planet, some people, like Garner, are digging in, planting trees. They are first responders. Who else is rushing to Earth's rescue in such direct, immediate fashion?

I used to say that the most radical act a person can take on behalf of the planet and humanity's well-being is to plant a food garden. Now, it seems the most radical act is to plant trees.

In the photo above, my good friend Clifton Maxwell (in newly tie-died t-shirt) works with a multi-agency crew to plant trees along Union Street, across from HATCH Workshop, near a freeway underpass and a railroad crossing that divide the city into quarters. They show off a wheelbarrow full of saplings that, once planted and filled out, will alter the micro-climate of an old industrial part of the city where trees are far too few and uncared for.

This planting, under the supervision of the City of Stockton Public Works Dept., is part of the Urban Forest Renovation Project which is well on its way to the goal of planting approximately 1,750 trees. The nonprofit partners in this effort are Little Manila Rising and PUENTES. They are trying to restore some semblance of ecological integrity to an area that has been deeply disturbed by ecologically irresponsible planning and development.

HATCH Workshop opened at this site specifically to try to try to revive the area's depleted ecology and community. This is a tired industrial area -- an industrial-residential interface -- where the land is long removed from the native ecosystem that used to thrive here more than a century ago. Good soil here is nonexistent ... with the exception of soil folks like these bring in to plant trees.

Stockton, you are rich beyond belief! The wealth is you, the people. People planting trees will make all the difference in the world.


Mural by

Pamela Ortiz Cerda

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