Celebrate Earth Day: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The Golden Rule Becomes the Green Rule...

We, the people, the grass roots of this country can change the world. We hold the power to alter our small piece of the universe, this extraordinary planet we call Earth. We can reduce our carbon footprint using vehicles and appliances enhanced with greater energy efficiency. We can reduce the size of our lawns. We can refuse to use lawn chemicals, protect groundwater, getting back to basics. We can turn off electric lights when we leave a room, turn down the thermostat before we go to bed. We can compost and then plant a few vegetables in the earthen results. We can change our patterns, improve, becoming more efficient, frugal and “green”.

We gardeners are cutting edge environmentalists. Many of us grow organically or at least employ IPM, integrated pest management methods, using as few chemicals as possible. With deep conviction we understand our place in this world having engendered a great respect for life and the intricate workings of nature. This understanding has naturally emerged within us simply by working the soil and observing circadian cycles. Now there seems to be growing emphasis from many sectors that green can save the planet; that we might be able to save us from ourselves. If not us, who?

One simple project we can all embrace, even those of you who do not consider yourselves gardeners, is to each plant a tree. In this time global warming has become fact, no longer a theory concocted by left-wing wild-eyed radicals with some bizarre purported but undefined anti-corporate, anti-political agenda. Indeed, it appears that it is many of the nay-Sayers who, through oil-tinted glasses, seem to hold a biased and myopic politicized view of the world which has been cynically projected upon the rest of us.

The more trees planted, the more carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere and stored lessens the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming. Even but for the handful yet in denial regarding global warming what might you have to lose by planting a tree? It’s good for your heart, your soul, your landscape, property values and engenders more beautiful surroundings, salubrious to ones psyche. It’s good for birds, beneficial insects and life in general. It’s a positive lesson for youngsters. Get them involved, let them help. It could even help to cement a tighter bond among you. The lesson taught to young people could be immeasurable; indeed, it may spark a budding career in agriculture.

Interestingly, in a recent schism within evangelical communities younger, fresher thought casts the planet’s health as a moral issue. There is belief that the Earth, God-given, that is by evangelical estimation, is here for us as a people to embrace, love and a home for which we must tend. The planet is not something to be ransacked for the sake of corporations or raped by the greedy or abused by those who would have their way with it just because they can. Rather, it is a treasure to be used for the benefit of all without depleting and killing off entire species and eco-systems in the process. This green concept overlaps with non-religious environmentalists and is fundamental in pagan belief.

There is certainly a growing green awakening coming from many quarters. Though there has been talk of it since the 1960s it has taken several oil-driven wars and this nearing environmental calamity whose shadow under which we remain that has brought this green movement closer to mainstream fruition. Even some politicians are now speaking of “green collar” jobs. These jobs would pay, presumably, a living wage and be beneficent to the planet. It seems forward-looking and relatively safe turf as so many citizens are jobless, manufacturing jobs have decreased precipitously because of “free trade” and service sector jobs with frequency do not pay a living wage. So, maybe green collar jobs could and perhaps will be one wave of the future.

So, join with all these environmentalists. Your local nurseries can help you find the right tree for your situation, one that is not a weed menace, one that might even display multiple seasons of interest, one that provides shade from hot summer sun. A tree grows in Brooklyn… hopefully many trees, and in each and every town, too.

L. H. Bailey once said, “If it were possible for every person to own a tree and take care of it, the good results would be beyond estimation.” And though I expect this gentleman did not have global warming in mind, nevertheless his statement holds new and recharged meaning in our time. Plant a tree, water it and watch it grow. The lesson is life, respect and conscience. The Golden Rule becomes the Green Rule. Get out those shovels. Plant a tree on Earth Day. Be a world class patriot. Dig in and have fun.

penned by Wayne Paquette in Villager Newspaper, 2008