Birth Tree Family Celebration 2014

This past Sunday, Sustainable Williston celebrated families of new children in Williston with a gift of a tree or shrub to each family, each with a small bronze tag with the new child’s name. The trees were donated by Gardener’s Supply in Williston, and sponsors Vermont Wildflower Farm and Green Mountain Compost donated wildflower seeds and a free bag of compost, respectively. The program was also supported generously by Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation and the Town of Williston.

Here are photos from Birth Tree Program organizer Marie-Claude Beaudette:

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Birth Tree Project sponsors

Town of Williston Gardeners Supply Company Vermont Forests Parks and Recreation Green Mountain Compost Vermont Wildflower Farm

4 thoughts on “Birth Tree Family Celebration 2014

  1. I apologize if what I am about to say comes across as an attack, but with all due respect, can you please explain what part of having children is “sustainable” and why a group calling itself “Sustainable Williston” would promote childbirth? Certainly you are aware of the fact that our unsustainable human population is the underlying cause of most, if not all, of the Earth’s environmental problems and that therefore adding more humans (and particularly those with a Western upbringing) to the mix is the last thing we should be doing? Moreover, with tens of million of orphans worldwide needing homes (some ~500,000 in the US alone) can you help me understand how someone who says that they are concerned about sustainability is able to overlook this incredible need and instead give birth to one (or more) of their own children?

    And while I could remark that “just because corporate America is hard at work co-opting this word ‘sustainable’ doesn’t give blogs like yours a license to do the same thing” it would be a very divisive point to make. So, instead, let me ask how you how you see childbirth as lining up with what it means to be working towards a sustainable future.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment and I really do look forward to your reply. .

    • Hi Kai,

      I can’t speak for Sustainable Williston as a whole, since we don’t have any kind of agreed-upon stance on the subject, but I can address the questions you brought up from my own point of view, which I hope may be helpful.

      First of all, I’m entirely in agreement with you about population growth being a serious problem, in regard to climate change and to many other issues. I also agree that adoption is a very good thing. For the record, the Birth Tree program is for both newborns and newly-adopted children, though I don’t think that gets to your central concern.

      I think the most important thing in this program–at least, it’s the most important thing to me–is what effect we’re having on our community. I remember when I was quite young that my parents planted a maple tree beside our garage. I always felt a connection to that tree. One of the parents who came with his family to pick up their tree the other day mentioned that his own family had done the same thing, and talked about his own connection. I think this one act can potentially have a profound effect–or at the least a noticeable effect–on the relationship the family and the child have to the natural world. Planting a tree is a way of opting into doing something about the damage happening all around us and doing something to help turn the tide–even if that first step is just a small one, just planting a single tree.

      So you describe us as promoting childbirth–but I can’t imagine that anyone, anyone at all, would be so excited to get a free tree and some cookies that they would have a child for that reason. We’re not encouraging people to have children: we’re celebrating those children when they come into the world and supporting them and their families coming into a closer, more nurturing relationship with nature. Regardless of how many children anyone may feel a family should have, once those children are here, we who feel passionately about sustainability could hardly do anything more destructive to their involvement with sustainability than to ignore or scorn them simply because they, like us, are taking up precious resources. It’s a problem we all share! Every one of us strains the planet’s resources a little more, you and me included, right? So what do we do about that?

      For a group like us, there are only three courses I can think of that we can pursue if we want to promote smaller families and sustainable behaviors:

      1) Try to get a law passed enforcing small family size (though I would not envy such a law’s chances in this country)
      2) Berate people for having children (which I strongly suspect would do more harm than good), or
      3) Try to engage families and children in sustainability.

      We’re going for that third one.

      • Luc,

        I was really hoping for more enlightened and less defensive response. So, with all due respect, allow me to point out a fourth and highly effective option – one that would promote sustainability and have the greatest corresponding effect on your local community – and that is to not promote childbirth on your blog but instead to blog about (and promote) the urgent need to continue reducing our national and international birth rate and the very real need to adopt children. “After” the baby (as you advocate) not only misses the point but is far too little and far too late.

        And until each of us personally owns the changes that our planet is demanding that we make, we’re just painting around the edges. And what bigger change do we have direct control than to stop adding to the global human population? Again, no matter how you chose to paint it there’s nothing “sustainable” about additional humans, particularly Western/Global North ones.

        Certainly you can see the massive contradiction that this blog post, your tree planting program and your response creates?

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