Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Arbor Day Ardor: One Acorn at a Time

You’re a certified, granola-crunching tree-hugger. Friday, April 29 is Arbor Day.

You know what to do: Plant a few huggables. Do your part. Make the place prettier, pump up that carbon cycle.

You’ll feel good about yourself, and you should.

But as you roll up your sleeves for your Arbor Day frenzy, consider Elzeard Bouffier, the protagonist of The Man Who Planted Trees. Jean Giono’s powerful fable, first published as a magazine article in 1954, tells of how, in the years following World War I, Bouffier — one acorn at a time, one tree at a time, one day a time –transformed thousands of acres in southern France from a war-ravaged moonscape to a lush and beautiful forest.

The results, ecologically speaking, were predictable: Where once no plant, animal or person had lived, life in all its variation was reborn, and flourished.

The Man Who Planted Trees is a parable, of course. But every writer from Plato on down has understood what a powerful short-cut to the truth fiction can be.

I will resist a tectonic digression into noting the ironic enthusiasm with which America’s current federal government of choice is handing over access to the national forests to the timber industry at your expense.

No, I guess I won’t: You already know (don’t you?) that millions of tax dollars — your money — are being spent to roll back legal protection of America’s national forests, and to subsidize the building of thousands of miles of logging roads in those forests, for the sole purpose of enriching the logging industry. That’s “industry,” as in profit and nongovernmental, private/shareholder ownership.

You will not get your percentage.

Where’s the outrage?

(If anyone in the well-appointed boardrooms of this industry has even heard of Bouffier, they presumably consider him an obsessive-compulsive fruitcake — and a fictional one, at that — even though the singlemindedness with which the industry is ravaging these publicly owned resources makes Bouffier ‘s dedication look like dabbling in a window box.)

I hear you asking the disconsolate question: In the face of new proposals forthousands of miles of tax-paid logging roads to cut down 300,000 acres of old-growth trees in Alaska alone, affecting 2.5 million acres, what can I do?

Well, you can take inspiration from others, who have been inspired by Giono’s book to take tangible action action — from a teenager in North Carolina to group of senior citizens in California — and have planted tens of thousands of trees from coast to coast.

You can educate yourself on the monstrous injustices with respect to corporate taxes and subsidies that we barely notice them anymore. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, 46 companies with combined profit of $42.6 billion paid no federal income taxes in 2003 alone, and instead received rebates totaling $5.4 billion. (The government is counting on that sense of futility. Annoy the government. Your self-esteem will soar.)

You can buy the book, of course. Or the CD by the Paul Winter Consort, narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema. Or the award-winning, 1985 animated film based on the book.

And share them with your friends.

You can take heart from the fact that environmentalism — which the government wants you to see as a secular, Godless, soulless juggernaut of sentimental folly — is being increasingly understood as a profoundly moral and even religious issue by those who at first glance might seem unlikely allies.

As the recent, 35th anniversary of Earth Day fades into memory, you can also take note of World Environmental Day — Thursday, June 5 — on which nations around the world will remind us that not all “furriners” fit handily into the stereotype of rainforest-burning, sulfur dioxide-spewing idiots.

It’s their planet, too, and they know it.

In many ways, they’re a lot smarter than we are.


Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you.Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and all […] Read More

Recipe: Pascal Baudar’s Basic Wild Kimchi

Experiment with what you have, anything from the mustard family will work extremely well. Read More

Author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas: Dreaming of Lions

Reading through your life story, it’s clear that you were amazingly open to new experiences, approaching them like an observer who arrived with few previously held ideas. Do you think that it takes that kind of openness to see and understand animals and people in new ways, as you’ve done throughout your career? I do, […] Read More

Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com