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The Breath From Our Trees

by Cindy Ann Bowers (and Katie!)

Celebrating Creation Season in September leaves a tough act to follow with the Earth Care Ministry’s monthly themes. But our October topic, Trees, provides an opportunity to discuss beauty, change, and the interaction of earth’s plant and animal kingdoms, while we watch the leaves transform from greens into brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds. Take a moment to notice the changes and take a deep breath.

My partner’s mother, a big part of my life since age 14, is a botanist. From her, I learned an appreciation for all of plant life. She worked as “Mother Nature” for a church summer camp for over 10 years. She hiked, biked, and canoed all through the Adirondacks in NY and shared her love of nature and plants with everyone she encountered. Needless to say, she is pretty fond of trees. When I think of some of the places we’ve visited together, trees are included in each of my fond memories. One of the goals I have in my retirement is to learn more about nature so I, too, can share nature with the next generation.

As part of my learning plan, I’ve studied a bit about trees. One book stands out from my reading: Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard. Simard is responsible for foundational research showing how trees communicate with and support each other (both inter-species and intra-species) through fungi entwined in their root systems. Reading through her discoveries over a lifetime of fieldwork is fascinating and shows how much we still have to learn about trees and their interactions with ecosystems. We know so little about this life-form that enhances the atmosphere we breathe.

Trees are the backbone of many climate change remediation plans. Trees play a fundamental role in our earth’s biosphere. As documented by Project Drawdown, trees and forests play a huge part in climate change solutions. Tree planting is a major activity in many air travel carbon offset projects.

  • Did you know our local biosphere is the most diverse biosphere in the United States?

  • Did you know that the iconic ‘smoky’ mist of our mountains is the product of the exhalation of millions of trees, bushes, and other plants?

“In 1988, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, together with 13 other public agencies, was designated as an international biosphere reserve, known as the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (SAMAB). The SAMAB is a public/private partnership promoting the environmental health and stewardship of natural, economic, and cultural resources in the South Appalachians. Click here to learn more about this partnership.

Trees are amazing creatures. Too often, we take them for granted and view them as annoyances that need to be removed to enhance our view. Even as I write this, a crew is widening the power line cut in our neighborhood and all I can hear is saws. It makes me sad. But I know there are organizations all over the US and world who are planting trees and preserving existing forests as best they can. Pretty soon, Trinity members will have a chance to plant a few locally. One of the Ministry’s goals is to reach out and partner with other area groups and governments. We have members who observe meetings of the Environmental Sustainability Board and the Tree Board for the City of Hendersonville. The Tree Board is a specific interest because we would like to join the city in planting trees. We’re hoping to bring event details to the congregation soon about planting trees in a nearby neighborhood. Stay tuned!


Easy ways to help trees today (without bending over!)

Trinity's Solar Array (as of 9/19/2022)
  • Turn off the lights at Trinity - Our solar array takes care of a LOT of our energy needs at Trinity, but not all. When we lower energy use in the building, a larger proportion of power used comes from solar, not the Duke power grid. Flip the switch!

  • Switch your default search engine/browser to Ecosia. - Every time you search the web, your search engine gets a teeny-weeny slice of revenue from the ads that you see on their pages. I know, we all hate ads, right? But if you HAVE to look at ads anyway, wouldn't you like the ad-viewing profits to go toward a good cause? If you use Ecosia (instead of Google or Bing), then 80% of ad profits from your searches go to plant trees! (20% go towards other environmental projects like agricultural projects in Mali and Indonesia or chimp habitat repair in Uganda.) Check out their website for financial reports, certifications, awards, etc. Currently at over 150 MILLION trees planted!

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