Back in November, when the year was different and the ground was unfrozen, before the holidays settled around our bellies and resolutions were promised, the We Are Here to Plant a Tree team canvassed the city with ideas of its own. One was to make a mark upon the city. A small, gentle gesture, if you will, but a mark none-the-less. Despite numerous intentions to the contrary, the facility of mark making often underscores the art practice–or at least our current understanding of it. How neat is that curve? How blended are those colors? And yes, to draw with a shovel you need to use the pointed end. So the team did just that. It struck hard steel in places that were soft and pliable, it jabbed into rocky zones of established countenance, and at times, it wrestled with the terra firma to gain a foothold.
Drawing with a shovel in a public space is a collaborative process. In order to establish entrance, the ground must be wetted with ideas, stony obstacles negotiated, and roots bared. Because this process exudes joy and hardship among participants, it strengthens the approach. To plant a tree is something different. Each and every time it is different. Planting is personal. For some, at times, it is memory. To others, it is promise. Sometimes it is, today is the day I produce change. Each hole dug yields new ground and an opportunity to sift through the past, present, and future.
In simple terms, the We Are Here to Plant a Tree team and its community of collaborators planted 50 trees. A mark was laid on the landscape that stretched from a former Civil War burial site in Liberty, Missouri to a tree trail in Overland Park, Kansas. And beyond. The line stretched from government offices where the people’s will is fostered to non-profit centers where good will is spread to others. The community, of which there were many flavors, engaged with the native, of which there were many varieties.