Saturday, March 31, 2012
Rituals are an important part of life. They provide an outline to new experiences as something familiar in unfamiliar places. Performing a ritual gives meaning and depth to an action by causing you to pause and deeply consider each moment. On our trip, we became immersed in the ritual of naming each tree that we planted. This particular ritual was more than merely the final step in the planting process, it acknowledged the beginning of a new life. It caused us to stop and give each individual tree a personality and to hope for it's future. Coming to an agreement on a name was sometimes the most challenging part of planting, and our group came up with some very interesting ones. Some were ironic, such as Tree Swift, others were classy, such as Cyntharia, some were reflective of our love for food, such as Hamburger, and some were short and sweet, such as our first tree ever, Mark. Regardless of the name however, the process of naming allowed us to feel more personally connected to the trees. The actual name didn't mean as much as the continuation of the ritual and realization that we were giving something a chance to live. TreePeople's ritual of tree-naming helps to encourage volunteers to careful care during the planting process, which provides a greater sense of responsibility and quality in the work that they do. Hopefully with these rituals our trees will continue to grow and prosper.
~Ava and Rachel
Friday, March 30, 2012
Sitting in our first hole!
Atop the Hollywood Hills, facing the Pacific Ocean.
At the UCLA Labor Center for a presentation.
Soaking up the sun in the beautiful hills of Venice.
Crossing the canals and pausing for a photo op.
Posing on a trail with Danny, the forestry manager of Tree People.
Tikkun Olam in LA.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
“The meaning of life is to plant a tree under whose shade you will never sit.” This is the sentence that first made me realize the bigger significance of planting trees – a seemingly small task that has a greater impact than I ever imagined. Danny, the incredibly witty forestry manager of Tree People, taught us the series of steps it takes to plant a tree: Choosing a location, digging a hole, massaging the roots out of the baby tree’s “root ball,” settling it into the earth, spreading its roots further into new soil, filling in the new earth, watering it with four buckets, setting up supportive stakes to keep it from falling, and finally, the naming ceremony. So much goes into this process to make sure that the tree is healthy, secure, and might stand a chance against LA’s lack of rain from March to September. Not to mention the air pollution.
Aside from the direct service of planting trees, we’re creating a lasting investment in the community. I hope that the trees I have planted will provide a refreshing shelter from the hot California sun for someone who needs to rest. I hope that my trees (their names are Treealah, Big Easy, and Jazzy the Love Tree) offer happiness to a young child who wants to dig for bugs around its roots. I hope someone climbs my trees one day.
I hope someone finds my tree and sits beneath it, and daydreams for a while.
In Judaism, we talk about the “tree of life” pretty often, and until now, I haven’t truly appreciated the life force of a tree. From sapling to mighty oak, they grow slowly but surely, ring by ring. Their branches reach up to the heavens and their roots dig down deep for nourishment. Similarly, humans look up to the sky for answers and burrow into their past to find out who they are. As humans, we like to branch out yet stay grounded. My biggest hope for the rest of this week is to continue to enjoy the satisfying work, get some more dirt under my fingernails, and appreciate the trees of life that we are bringing into the world. It would be nice to return to Griffith Park one day and sit under the shade of the trees I’ve planted, but that’s not the point. As long as others find joy and shade under the canopy of leaves reaching upwards, I’ll be proud.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Monday was such an action packed day for us ASBers. I don't use the word 'action' loosely either. The main focus of LA CAN is to inspire and organize the community to action. Similarly, Union Rescue Mission provides at risk folks with the resources to take control of the actions in their lives and start on the path to making the most of their lives.
I'm sure each of the trip members took in various perspectives during the visits to the sites, but what I took in was the theme of unity in community. Serving food to the folks residing at URM gave me a glimpse of this powerful theme. When the men came to their scheduled breakfast time the interactions between them were sparse. Many men sat alone, while a few sat together in pockets enveloped in serious conservation. The women sat together in different groups; few were alone. However, they simply locked eyes while they ate - barely any conversation. Just sitting together in unity. What does this social behavior imply? I'm barely sure myself but I would venture to guess that these folks, with most luxuries stripped from them, have one thing that they can share together: unity within their community.
At LA CAN, the unity is more apparent. In fact, you cannot turn your head and ignore the droves of men and women who do not have homes. They congregate on the sidewalk in masses to the point where they all appear like one. They are unified in their life situation becoming a living depiction, a call to action of the help they so desperately need.
Community has been a topic our group has discussed since our first day in Los Angeles - even sprinkled here and there in our Sunday Seminars at Drexel. Our own ASB community, the LA community, and the homeless community: what are the common thread between them? How can we all align our visions? Does it require a call to action within all of us? I believe that it must start with a unity amongst all of our communities. A common thread in all of the sites us ASBers visit during this week long journey in Los Angeles: the homeless capital of America.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
After an awesome session with our trip coordinators, Josh and Marissa, we are ready to start this great adventure! We talked about the definition of community, our thoughts about LA and what we want to accomplish here. Tomorrow we are going to a soup kitchen at 5:15 am. Gotta get to bed. We will blog tomorrow!