Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Carob Trees

Last night I was back at City Hall for a City Council meeting which included an Item on the fate of Santa Monica’s Carob trees.

In May (very shortly after the culling of the Ficus trees) Walt Warriner- Community Forest and Landscape Superintendent- raised a panic about the Cities’ Carob trees. Apparently, it was suddenly evident that most of the trees were riddled with rot and fungi and due for potential failure. At least 98 trees have now been removed. At a City Council meeting on May 22nd, it was recommended that further assessments should be made on 202 trees, the object being to see if they could be phased out gradually.

Last night Walt Warriner presented his report. Two independent arborists designated 189 of the trees with a high risk potential, saying they should be removed as soon as possible. This left only 13 that- although in poor condition- might survive longer with careful pruning.

No one doubts that the Carob trees have problems but is it really necessary to destroy a large section of the Cities’ canopy in one fell swoop? These mature, large canopied trees are doing an invaluable environmental job, and it would be harmful to the community to lose them all before replacement trees had a chance to mature. I fear that because one of the independent arborists- Cy Carlburg- was, on her own admission, involved with a tree that caused a fatality, the conclusions she reached were naturally colored by this very emotional incident. Yes, all trees have the potential of causing damage to pedestrians or property- and the Carob trees certainly have a possible risk factor but this factor has to be re-evaluated.

Fortunately, the Councilmembers are taking this very seriously- perhaps having learned a lesson from the slaying of the healthy Ficus trees? Councilmembers Genser, Shriver and McKeown put some very pertinent questions to Mr Warriner. The “point” system used to evaluate risk was questioned. It was shown that if a large, healthy Redwood was standing by a school playground, it would actually have the same risk factor number of 8 as a tree riddled with rot and due for removal!

Another query regards the replacement trees: it is planned that once street residents have agreed upon a particular suggested tree, those who wished could request a more costly one in front of their house. Apart from being very undemocratic, we would thus lose the wonderful, almost architectural unity of the avenues of same-species trees that make Santa Monica so special. The Councilmembers were also concerned about this.

The whole issue has been deferred.

Many of these endangered/ dangerous (?) carob trees are on 12th Street, where I stayed for some months in 2004, walking my daughter’s dog Bella along these avenues. As I have no immediate carob photos- and it is, unusually, raining today- I will instead show an image of Bella disguised as a Zebra……or a White Tiger?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Boutique

Since I started this blog, friends and fellow tree/nature addicts keep telling me how they would like to have my photos as cards. I have finally taken their advice and for the last few weeks have been enjoying myself converting many images int0 both cards and large-format photos. I will shortly be reconstructing my website - - and will up-load them onto it.

More immediately, this weekend I am taking a collection of my cards and photos to a local Craft Fair- the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club- SMWYC - Holiday Boutique. This takes place on both Saturday and Sunday, from 9am-4pm, at the Yacht Club: 13589 Mindanao Way, Marina Del Rey. So that's where you can find me and my photos, together with my friend Treesaver Louise who will be selling her jewelry.

And here are some of the images that are in various formats, large and small:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Dream Come True....

August 28th 1963: Martin Luther King,Jr had his Dream, a dream that moved me far off in London and became doubly moving when he was assassinated on April 4th 1968:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

And so that dream was realized on November 4th 2008, as Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States of America. As he walked onto the platform with his wife and two young daughters- all four glowing and beautiful, a breath of fresh air- Martin Luther King’s words rang in my ears.

I kept thinking we had come a full circle. Back in the 60’s those of us who had grown up during the First World War had all felt the greyness of the 40’s and 50’s dispel and we believed a new world of peace and understanding was dawning. Then everything went backwards and we were disillusioned. Now at least there is the POSSIBILITY of a change; there is hope.

The different motives people have had to vote for Obama are irrelevant: it is enough that they have voted for him.

Viewing the ecstatic crowd scenes in Chicago on the television, I was struck by how the rapturous facial expressions reminded me of those of the awed acolytes in the film Close Encounters as they watched the landing of the spacecraft. The same joyous “glow” was evident.

To turn to local politics: also on November 4th, my good friend Susan Hartley stood for Santa Monica City Council but was not elected. An attorney and committed environmentalist (and co-founder of Treesavers), with clear ideas of the City's needs, she would have been a great asset. If she can be persuaded to stand at the next elections, perhaps then those dreams will come true.

Susan Hartley-photo by Scott Smith