IF TREES COULD WISH, WHAT WOULD THEY WISH FOR?
On Arbor Day 2015, Our City Forest launched an outreach campaign titled “Plant It Forward” hoping to inspire, educate and motivate people about the importance of the urban forest and that we all have a rippling impact - positive or negative - on its existence.
We hung 120 Tree Wishes throughout different parts of San Jose and Saratoga for people to find and take home, and use them as a reminder to promote eco-kindness and awareness in our daily lives.
Tree Wishes are handmade eco-ornaments made from fallen tree branches removed by our Tree Care Team as part of regular maintenance events. The branches are cut into thin coaster-size slices, sanded, branded with our logo and messaging, and finished with colorful ribbon and instructions. We also attached a smaller green slice to each ornament to be removed and returned to our Community Nursery as part of a community art installation designed by one of our very own AmeriCorps members. Each green slice will represent a leaf on a bigger tree, symbolizing our individual roles within our ecosystem - small yet interwoven and vital.
"Our City Forest loved the idea so much that we decided to adapt it to promote the importance of eco-kindness and trees in people's lives."
Our Tree Wish campaign was inspired by a humanitarian organization in Tucson, Arizona named Ben's Bells, who create and share beautiful ceramic bells within the community as a visual reminder to practice kindness in their day-to-day lives. This effort was originally started by a mother who lost her two-year-old son and wanted to honor his life by reminding people about the importance of practicing kindness. The movement has since grown beyond Tucson and can be found in a number of cities all over the United States. Our City Forest loved the idea so much that we decided to adapt it to promote the importance of eco-kindness and trees in people's lives and hope to remind people that by planting it forward in whatever way you can, you are leaving future generations with beautiful mature trees to enjoy, just as past generations did for us.
As an organization and a campaign, we continually work to increase community awareness of the many benefits of trees, especially in the urban environment. If people notice trees more, they grow to appreciate them more. That appreciation will manifest for many people in a willingness to protect existing trees and advocate for new ones. The ultimate axiom of fully adopting the philosophy of Planting It Forward is that no one will ever have to experience a world where trees do not coexist with us side-by-side in interdependent harmony.
We have received several Tree Wishes already at our nursery and are eager to get more returned as people find them and bring them in. One participant said she found hers on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen after reading about the campaign in our newsletter. When asked to select a word to write on her respective “leaf” that represented how she felt about trees, she chose “Gratitude". Well said.
Moving forward, OCF will continue to be fueled by you, our community of advocates and volunteers, and keep Planting It Forward each and every day.
To learn more or get involved, please visit ourcityforest.org/tree-wish.