Friday, October 15, 2010

"Sick-Amour": Blue Planet Fest

I have been back in Los Angeles for three weeks. Having arrived in an excessive heatwave (temperatures up to a record 114 Fahrenheit), what with that, jet lag and re-bonding with my now nearly ten month old granddaughter, Violet, I have neglected Treeaware- so now to catch up:

In January 2008- while researching local Tree Artists for Treesavers' bid to get Santa Monica's Downtown Ficus trees Landmarked- I came across the website of Joel Tauber and his heart-warming video "Sick-Amour", annotating his love for a vulnerable, uncared for Sycamore tree sitting in the midst of the Rose Bowl's parking lot asphalt.

I was sorry to hear that the movie of Sick Amour was to premiere at the Los Angeles Downtown Film Festival on September 11th when I was still in the UK. However, last weekend the Blue Planet Film Fest- gave three showings of the movie in Santa Monica. To quote their Mission statement: "Blue Planet is the first animal-welfare/environmental film festival and forum to raise mainstream awareness and motivate people to action on the most important issues of our time: saving the earth and the biodiversity in it." So on Friday I was delighted to see the completed Sick-Amour (accompanied by fellow-Treesaver Louise).

It is a very moving, informative love-story, showing Joel's total dedication and resourcefulness to give this Sycamore tree a better quality of life- something that I totally relate to. It is quite amazing how much he accomplished- even persuading Pasadena's City Council to give the tree a wider surrounding asphalt-free area, with bollards to prevent destruction from vehicles. This is an environmental microcosm of what we should all be doing to respect and nurture trees without which we- literally- could not live. Please check out Joel's movie trailer and website here.

An important aspect of the movie is propagation- impossible for this isolated tree by itself. Joel has solved this by gaining the help of a nursery to germinate the seeds. Thus he has so far found homes for 140 "Tree Babies", both in people's homes and in public venues. Not having anywhere to plant a tree myself, it was gratifying to learn that Santa Monica was going to plant one of these Babies in Crescent Park by the Beach, following Friday's showing of the film. So here is the Planting:

First, Joel shows his love for his tree's offspring as it sits in the prepared hole:

And here he is joined by Mira Tweti, Executive Director of Blue Planet Film Fest:

And next Joel is joined by both Santa Monica's City Staff and Treesaver Linda Piera-Avila, representing Santa Monica's Urban Forest Task Force, set up by Santa Monica City Council largely due to the persistence of Treesavers during and following the Ficus tree crisis. It might seem surprizing that so many spades (gold ones too!) and bodies were necessary for planting this one little tree, but in fact earlier two native Torrey Pines were planted nearby, as part of an initiative to plant 1,000 trees and observe their environmental progress; besides, everyone wanted to be involved in the planting of this baby Sycamore tree:

Here Joel helps bed down the sapling:

And here as the final soil touches take place, you can see the tree's relationship with the Ocean:

Planting completed, the Baby sits in its neat water-retaining basin:

In Joel's movie, you learn of all the creatures and fungi that attacked his Sycamore, so it was good to see the healthy green leaves of this little one:

Joel gives his Tree Baby a last kiss:

Hopefully, this little tree will one day really grow up into the sky...

Note: English readers will be confused by the term "Sycamore", which there refers to Acer pseudoplatanus, rather than Platanus occidentalis, the American Sycamore, otherwise known as the London Plane tree- which in London is just referred to as a Plane tree! whereas in Scotland what the English call a Sycamore tree is sometimes called a Plane tree! All very confusing....and I have probably made it even more so!