Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Roots and Shoots: Day of Peace

Griffith Park, Los Angeles, September 21st:

There are three main themes that the group addresses:
Care and concern for the environment; Care and concern for animals; Care and concern for the human community.

Each year on September 21st, in support of the United Nations International Day of Peace, Jane Goodall's Institute, Roots and Shoots, organizes gatherings all over the World to promote Peace. Giant Peace Doves are made from recycled fabrics by young people in the communities. From the high peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro to the low plains of Kansas, Peace Doves Fly, held high by hopeful hands.

Griffith Park was a perfect setting, surrounded by its beautiful trees- although it was worrying to hear that even here there are plans afoot for so-called "development".

Headed by Environmental Activists and supporters- Daryl Hannah and Pierce Brosnan and his wife Keely Shaye among others- it was a real Family day, children having a high profile. Pierce Brosnan, Keely and their two sons led the wonderful procession of about 50 Doves from among the trees. Particularly moving was a Dove surrouded by young, optimistic children carrying bunches of flowers- it is always strange and exciting that one can be moved by something which is, essentially, just an old sheet!

I will start my images with Daryl Hannah leaving the stage and later show the Brosnan Family and other children carrying their Doves- also a back view of Gwen Stefani, with her son Kingston on her knee, watching her husband Gavin Rossdale performing on stage.

Roots and Shoots

Pelicans, not Trees

Full LA times article

Last week I spent a wonderful afternoon falling in love again and photographing the amazing Pelicans at Malibu Lagoon. This caused me to be particularly distressed and uncomprehending when I read the above article in the LA Times. It is hard to believe that people who can cause that sort of harm to a living creature really exist...
Below are some of my images:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Last 4 Ficus leave 4th Street:

Yesterday, I discovered to my sorrow that the last 4 Ficus trees prepared for relocation (death?) had been removed from 4th Street in the night. They are now in the same lot as their 3 companions- ironically, this lies directly opposite City Hall, enabling their captors to gloat over their prisoners. Many surveys have been done proving scientifically that trees communicate- here are some examples tracked down by Treesaver Louise Steiner:

" Science has known for some time that trees are able to communicate with each other in several ways. Rapid communication can occur downwind by releasing chemicals called pheromones into the air from the leaves. Slower communication can take place using similar chemicals through their root systems. But now a physicist in Oregon has accidentally found yet another way trees communicate with each other and very rapidly.

Ed Wagner was studying the flow of sap in trees and started finding voltage readings in the trees. With more research, he discovered that trees generate a standing wave formation that not only travels in the tree, but also through the air to other trees. These waves, he finds, correlate with what the tree is experiencing. The blow of an axe not only causes a tree to send out strong waves, but the surrounding trees respond with a similar, but less emphatic reaction."

Let's hope that our trees can support each other....

The image below shows the 4 new uprooted trees still in their crates. In the background on the extreme left is the still unplanted ficus from the first relocation- the one with the parking meter.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Zac Ware: Roving Reporter

The Guitar Tree and other images:

I last wrote of Zac when he played at Edinburgh Castle in July, explaining that he had been too busy "roving" the world to send me photos. However, last month- having finished his tour with The Proclaimers- he gave me two CD's full of his photos from this tour. Here are some of them, commencing with "The Guitar Tree":

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Relocation of Ficus Trees: 4

Back to 4th Street: Let's lay down the tarmac speedily and forget that a beautiful, vulnerable, life-enhancing Ficus tree ever stood there. Surely that's what shopper's prefer?

Relocation of Ficus Trees: 3


We are led to believe by the City Council that our poor refugee Ficus Trees will be transported to Paradise, in a park where no Big Blue Buses can bash into them (could not something have been done about this?) and where their roots (what's left of them?) can thrive.....When one sees a notice posted on the lot (opposite City Hall) where 2 of the trees have already been planted and a third awaits with a Parking Meter stuck beside it- sick joke?- one wonders. Apparently there are plans for a big development there. Paradise or Purgatory?

Relocation of Ficus Trees: 2

3 of the Ficus trees have now been moved from the site where they were planted on the instigation of those forward thinking ladies, Jacqueline Girion and her Women's Committee, together with first woman Mayor, Clo Hoover, back in the 1960's ( see post January 22nd 2008). 4 more will shortly be removed.

Relocation of Ficus Trees: 1

No sooner had I returned to Santa Monica- on September 1st- than I heard that the City Council were preparing to relocate seven Ficus trees on 4th Street. To re-cap: see past posts re. Ficus trees/ Treesavers, from May backwards.

On May 16th 2008, after an eight month battle with Santa Monica Treesavers, the City Council cut down 23+ stately, healthy Ficus trees on 2nd Street, totally ignoring the fact that nearly 11,000 residents and visitors had signed petitions to keep the trees. Initially, they planned to relocate a further 31 of these mature trees- and why? For so-called "design" reasons and some misconception that shoppers don't like shade!

At least for the moment they are compromising and reducing the number to 7- but how can we trust them not to both cull and transplant further trees in the near future? Less than 50 years old they could live for another 100 years if left where they were. Although the City Forester- Walt Warriner- insists that they have a 95% survival chance, our independent highly qualified Arborist- Alden Kelley- thinks otherwise. Following this up by giving scientific reasons, based on percentage of root ball to diameter of trunk, he states: "This would be a very costly way to torture the trees to death- most transplants would fail in 10 years or less in my opinion".

It is believed that the transplant cost per tree is approximately $11,000- to be born by Taxpayers who want to keep the trees where they are?

On September 3rd I therefore joined a number of Treesavers to witness what was happening on 4th Street. When the contractors arrived and proceeded to hack at large roots, Jerry PeaceActivist Ruben- a co-founder of Treesavers- chained himself to the tree. Upon the arrival of the Police, through them he tried to enter into a dialogue with Kate Vernez from the City Manager's Office, but she refused to come to the site. After continuing to work around Jerry's tree for some time, the contractors moved to another tree. Jerry unchained himself and followed them, still trying to negotiate peacefully with Kate Vernez through the Police. He never entered the restricted area around the tree, but suddenly the Police handcuffed Jerry and removed him to the Jail where- having been offered $10,000 bail- he spent the night. If the police do not drop charges there is the possibility he could be jailed for one and a half years- for what?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Discovery Apples

Before returning to Ficus tree issues in Santa Monica, I will finalize my time in the UK with a post about Discovery Apples.

Having been brought up on British apples- and mainly organic ones at that- I have long felt that we indisputably have the best apples in the World with regard to flavour and smell! Always, I get excited when I go into a shop in the late Summer and SMELL the nostalgic smell of Discovery Apples- the smell being the foretaste of an apple that tastes as delicious as it looks.

Coincidentally, having last month just bought and indulged in my first Discoveries, I received the following email from my friend Artist Helen Ganly, another Discovery devotee, writing about her Grandchildrens' Discovery experience:

“Here is a picture of Sammy and Roza's apple tree.

They dug the hole when they were six and eight.....five years ago!

I chose 'Discovery' because of its marvellous luminous pink /red apples which make it look like a tree from a fairy story, and for the way the colour bleeds from the skin into the flesh when the sweet apples are ripe.”

And here are the images she sent me:

Atlas Mountains

Travelling to a village on the foothills of the Atlas mountains (by car- not camel or mule) it was interesting to learn that the villager's livelihood was mainly based in the orchards they tended- pears, plums, apples- as well as in the abundance of gnarled Walnut trees growing around the village.

As everywhere in Morocco- both in towns and remote habitations- here were beautiful, individual doors.

A memory from my first visit to the Atlas Mountains- in the early 1970's- was of the wonderful fat, iridescent blue and terracotta pink Roller Birds, sitting on telegraph poles- I searched for them, but did not see them. Neither did I see the flocks of brilliant Bee eaters- but there were compensations.

On the way home we stopped off at Kasbah Tamadot, owned by Richard Branson- wonderful views but after our village and after Jnane-Tamsna it felt irritatingly European.....I was only allowed to take one photo (see last one)!