The team did some hiking and bird watching this past weekend at Government Island State Park in Portland. Government Island is located on the Columbia River and is actually comprised of a series of islands, with 15 miles of shoreline. It was a gorgeous outing! Check out some of the shots from the adventure, taken by our resident photographer and marketing assistant Charley:
The benefits of trees are obvious:
Trees provide shade, cool the environment, store and sequester carbon emissions, capture and mitigate polluting aerosols and other damaging particulates, facilitate biodiversity, aid soil conservation, and promote human health both physically and mentally.
But how do these facts stand in the face of a continuous loss of natural assets in urban environments today? How can we support the green infrastructure of our cities if the benefits of trees are undervalued and to a large degree, intangible?
This is where i-Tree makes its way into the scenery, an app developed by the USDA Forest Service that tabulates the financial value of trees, translating its holistic assets into clear monetary terms that everybody can understand–and process objectively.
There has been a need to quantify our urban forest resources–and once quantified, they become easier to assess, and ultimately, to manage. Imagine street trees converted into dollars and cents: their powers of filtration and healing on the urban scale configured into a numeric amount. Imagine a tree that is worth more than your house.
How does this alter your perception of the green-leafed fixtures that surround us?
We recently spotted an article about artist Konstantin Dimopoulos, who has been painting trees blue in urban areas like Seattle and Kenmore. He cloaks the trees with azurite, a soft, deep blue copper mineral that eventually fades and washes away over time. The effect is marvelous, as it transforms what has always been so familiar and essential to us into something quite foreign and strangely conspicuous.
Dimopoulos began his Blue Trees installations in 2010 as an effort to draw attention to shrinking forests around the globe and to the millions of trees being lost to man-made and natural deforestation each year. The basic principle behind the project is to transform the way people view, think about, and process the natural environment around them. When we see the trees for what they’re not–in this instance, blue–we’re forced to re-evaluate the experience we typically have with these entities.
Konstantin writes on his website: “In nature color is used both as a defensive mechanism, a means of protection, and as a mechanism to attract. The Blue Trees attempts to waken a similar response from viewers. It is within this context that the blue denotes sacredness, something reverential.” While I find the choice of blue to be more jarring, intrusive, and bizarre than divine, the trees certainly inspire feelings of awe. There is an assertiveness and an imposing quality to the Blue Trees that seem to almost reshape the landscape surrounding them. How do we make sense of the relationship between these trees and the city blocks or commercial spaces in which they’re placed? How did we make sense of it before the trees were colored blue?
While there have been mixed responses to the project, there’s something to be said about the way it confronts us with the question of disappearing natural elements. This brings me back to the thoughts about green walls and the rise of urban greenery mentioned in a previous post–ironic, is it not, that we seem to be invoking and attempting to revive elements of nature in our urban spaces at the same time we’re supplanting nature via rapid urban development?
Check out Dimopoulos’ work here.