The final Friday of the month means it’s time for We Are the World Blogfest, the day for promoting positive news. It delights me to participate as an agent of pronoia highlighting feel-good news stories for us all to celebrate.
Cohosting the project this month are: Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion, Simon Falk, Michelle Wallace, Mary Giese. Do check out their posts, along with everyone else participating, and feel free to join us here.
Today, the last Friday in Apri, also happens to be National Arbor Day, and in honor of that observation I want to share a tree-related story. In truth, it’s not an actual hot-off-the-press news story, but I’m betting few people know about it, and it’s worth celebrating, so I’m calling it a good-to-go share.
A small book publisher in Argentina is offering a book that can grow back into a tree after you’re done reading it. The project, called Tree Book Tree, uses acid-free paper impregnated with Jacaranda seeds, a species of flowering tree native to Central and South America. Read more about it and watch a short video here.
To be clear, this may seem frivolous and/or misguided, and for those who insist all reading should be done on devices, no physical book is a good thing. And it’s true, it will be far better when we’re all using non-tree sourced paper, such as post-consumer waste and sustainable crops like hemp, kenaf, and bamboo.
But we’re not at that point, and certainly not in Argentina where this book is published. There is a huge deforestation problem, and while the issues are multiple and complex, a driving force behind exponential forest and habitat loss, with impacts on freshwater resources and pesticide use is the planting of palm oil and soy crops in answer to global demands in the edible oil market.
So any project that helps educate kids about the value of trees, and helps them become invested in the planting of them is indeed a good thing and worthy of celebrating.
As an artist, I’ve worked with seeded papers a lot over the years. One of the things I like to do on the equinoxes and solstices is create weathergrams that I hand outside so the elements can disintegrate them over time. It feels appropriate to me to mark the turning of the cyclical seasonal wheel with something that itself will ebb and dissolve. I often make my own paper embedded with seeds. Here’s an example of one where I embedded dried leaves from a previous autumn. I enjoy knowing it eventually returned to composting.
Traditionally a weathergram contains a haiku, and on the back of this tag I used a translation of one of Basho’s:
“all along this road not a single soul – only autumn evening.”
It would be great if we could figure out how to walk this Earth without being the destructive burdens we are. I have faith in the wisdom and innovation of our youth, and hopefully they’ll find solutions we haven’t envisioned. And perhaps it all begins by reading a book that can be planted.