Building Community through Trees
By Kevin Ziemke
November 1, 2016
There are many reasons why trees are so important to our world.
For me, the most compelling reason revolves around fostering and sustaining
healthy communities. My introduction to the wonderfully dynamic world of trees
began with bicycles.
My passion for cycling has led to my love of trees. Many years ago, I had read
an advertisement for a neighborhood tree planting by bicycle, to showcase ways
to reduce one’s carbon footprint. I remember thinking, "Rad! How
cool!" I didn't know what to expect on that early, grey, misty
morning, but my qualms were quickly doused with bagels, friendly faces, and
strong, hot coffee.
This was the first planting by bicycle for this organization, so expectations
were appropriately humble. Our team had the "hilly" route, so we
quickly loaded up our trees on our gaggle of trailers and cargo bicycles. I was
truly inspired as our rag tag crew was slowly riding down a busy road in SE
Portland, with leaning trees and shovels dragging. That day I came to
understand how powerful trees can be. They can create community by bringing
complete strangers together for a common good, planting trees for future
generations to enjoy.
We managed to get all the trees planted -- some were easy and some
difficult, but that is a part of community building; not everything will be
easy. Tree plantings by bicycle have become quite common in Portland now, I had
the opportunity to lead a few and it was incredibly inspiring to see people so
eager and willing to do the hard work of community building. There always seems
to be spark of creativity and spontaneity during these planting events, by bicycle
or not, it seems to be innate in humans.
So, when I moved to Sacramento, I was in search of something
similar to do with trees and community building. I looked to the Tree
Foundation to fill that part of my soul again. It always amazes me, the fact
that trees are responsible for so much in this world, one of the greatest being
the habitat for humans and other living creatures. Since trees provide so much
for our community, I am working at the Sacramento Tree Foundation trying to do
my part to help the trees.