Pillars – and mirrors- of your communities

If you live in a city, maybe you don’t think of your local trees much – crammed as they are between buildings?
Maybe you don’t think of them at all!
But even in the most urban of settings, trees provide shade. Reduce pollution. They’re homes for the birds I heard in the dawn chorus for the first time in the first Covid lockdown.

Three leafless trees have their black winter-skeletons crammed between multiple red-brick council blocks in this photograph. It’s all set against a few perfect clouds in a gorgeous blue sky - behind a socially-distanced queue for Covid vaccinations

And if you look closely, your local trees mirror your local communities.

After the 100-year old trees in front of Euston Station – pillars of the local tree community – were murdered, their smaller neighbours lost the complex collaborative underground network of support they would have had from their elders. 
Without the Wood Wide Web, they are effectively orphans. 
How, I wonder, do they sense the giant ghosts? Were they – are they – simply stunned? 

Of course, the smaller trees have to get on with living, especially with Spring opening everything up.
It’s similar within our human communities. Covid19 killed – or it that murdered? – far too many human pillars of the local community. 
Are you feeling orphaned?
Of course, you too have to get on with living, especially as the country opens up. 
But maybe you’re still simply stunned? 

At just above human-head height, the sturdy trunk of this resilient tree splays out into a cloud of slender black winter-branches in this photograph. To her right is one of the world’s leading research institutes. Behind her is a small community centre - emblazoned with posters advertising local events. At her base, crushed rubbish has been dumped - not for the first, and not for the last time. Off to her left is one of those mega construction cranes - surely under the control of this strong and wise tree?
A resilient survivor

Less than ten minutes north-east of Euston, this beautiful tree lives alone. At her base, crushed rubbish has been dumped – surely not for the first, and almost certainly not for the last time.
But she keeps on resiliently surviving.
Look how she is surrounded by such different buildings. To her right is one of the world’s leading research institutes; while behind her is a small community centre. 
I cant help but believe that the huge construction crane off to her left … is actually under the control of this strong and wise tree!

Scattered under a glorious blue sky, this photograph shows more and more trees as you look more and more closely. Alone with their wintry shadows, they’re each marooned without the buildings they were surely planted alongside.  Behind three fat, flat boulders, concrete tracks lead - is it nowhere?  To the right, pale walls trap white buildings.

Less than five minutes northwards, these trees survived – marooned – when the buildings around them were destroyed. 
What, I wonder, do they remember? 
Who do they remember? 
Do you know other marooned trees
Have the Covid shutdowns – or the austerity that preceded it – left you feeling marooned?

Seven leafless winter trees snuggle close beside each other, on the far side of an empty road. The trees shelter multiple parked cars, and beneath the cars, the overlapping underground roots of the trees shine through, surrounded by a green and yellow network - the root-fungi which support and allow communication between the neighbourly trees. 
When we look past the trees, we can see over metal railings, through the buildings of a large school, up towards a vibrant blue sky, overwhelmed by clouds which cant quite blot out the blinding Sun.
Dancing partners

6 minutes further north, the trees here are close enough to support each other. 
I’ve seen them dancing together in such a neighbourly way in the strongest winds and rains. 
Could you be more neighbourly? To your local trees? Or to your human neighbours? 
When will you start the dancing?

Next time you step out your front door, check out your local trees. 
Let me know: how do you fit into their community?

If you live in Camden. London, like me and my images, and if you want to host a (free) tree of your own, please contact the Camden Forest project. I’ve recently been gifted a gorgeous baby rowan and a small dog-rose for my balcony. 
Of course, I’m still hanging out with my friendly local street trees too!

I dreamed this up for the RCA’s In the meantime, when they asked me to create something between the Story Garden and the Camden Arts Centre.
Scroll down to the pdf here – click on the far right, then look down for my name.

I stayed local, and only walked for ten minutes in Somerstown, to prove to myself – and to you – that even in areas with very low tree cover (scroll down to the lowest image and 2nd lowest column here) there are splendid trees to meet!

YOU can do something similar in YOUR local area!

Please do tell me about the trees you meet!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.