I think that I shall never see. A poem lovely as a tree…." ~ Joyce Kilmer
Or... Australia remains the biggest troll country that has ever existed.
The City of Melbourne, Queensland, Australia set up a program in 2013 which assigned city trees specific email addresses.
Now wait, there was a good reason.
In the event of a falling branch or other dangerous occurrence, city officials could act in a timely fashion with help from the public.
Instead, what has been happening, is the people of Melbourne have been sending elaborate love letters via email to the trees.
What happens when you give a tree an email address? Love letters, of course. https://t.co/l4LPBBX9TV— The Jonsteen Company (@The Jonsteen Company)1550783757.0
Melbournians, you were beautiful in 2015 (& still are): emailing love letters to trees... 💕 https://t.co/WpCY8gD2oZ— kylie boltin (@kylie boltin)1550750255.0
The city of Melbourne assigned trees email addresses so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thous… https://t.co/yzQFau3P7G— Daniel Rechtschaffen (@Daniel Rechtschaffen)1550793930.0
Today is a day to revisit this old article on the poetics of technology, our favorite trees, emails, and letters. M… https://t.co/0bjj0Bj7F2— Juliana Castro V. (@Juliana Castro V.)1550867294.0
The text of the love letters range from sounding like something out of a Jane Austen novel:
"My dearest Ulmus,"
"As I was leaving St. Mary's College today I was struck, not by a branch, but by your radiant beauty. You must get these messages all the time. You're such an attractive tree."
Ulmus, the green-leaf elm, was likely flattered.
To asking questions:
"To: Golden Elm, 21 May 2015"
"I'm so sorry you're going to die soon. It makes me sad when trucks damage your low hanging branches. Are you as tired of all this construction work as we are?"
To a list of thanks:
"To: Algerian Oak, 2 February 2015
Dear Algerian oak,"
"Thank you for giving us oxygen."
"Thank you for being so pretty."
"I don't know where I'd be without you to extract my carbon dioxide. (I would probably be in heaven) Stay strong, stand tall amongst the crowd."
"You are the gift that keeps on giving."
"We were going to speak about wildlife but don't have enough time and have other priorities unfortunately."
"Hopefully one day our environment will be our priority."
Interesting idea that is centered on civic engagement and ownership of public realm assets. If you feel like you o… https://t.co/JKdnFVTMak— worthington612 (@worthington612)1550843351.0
Look #Bogota - this is how you treat a tree - Lots to learn from the city of Melbourne where trees have an email ad… https://t.co/gvOj7u7hbl— Sofia Ramirez (@Sofia Ramirez)1550744974.0
When trees get email addresses they receive love letters. https://t.co/7DKKKjR6al— Jen May (@Jen May)1550813027.0
This was really cool... Kooky cool. Love letters to trees. Manitou... https://t.co/TMJmkLM0T2— Becky Elder (@Becky Elder)1550804331.0
Others wrote as other kinds of trees, communicating with their tree-friends across the pond:
"To: Oak, 11 February 2015"
"Just sayin how do."
"My name is Quercus Alba. Y'all can call me Al. I'm about 350 years old and live on a small farm in N.E. Mississippi, USA. I'm about 80 feet tall, with a trunk girth of about 16 feet. I don't travel much (actually haven't moved since I was an acorn). I just stand around and provide a perch for local birds and squirrels."
"Have good day,"
And eventually the trees started answering people back:
"To: Green Leaf Elm, 29 May 2015
Dear Green Leaf Elm,"
"I hope you like living at St. Mary's. Most of the time I like it too."
"I have exams coming up and I should be busy studying. You do not have exams because you are a tree."
"I don't think that there is much more to talk about as we don't have a lot in common, you being a tree and such. But I'm glad we're in this together."
The Green Leaf Elm replied with:
"29 May 2015
"I do like living here.
"I hope you do well in your exams. Research has shown that nature can influence the way people learn in a positive way, so I hope I inspire your learning.
Green Leaf Elm"
LOVE letters to trees! I love this! Let's do it. #loveletters #treelove #arboristwriters #writingfromthetop… https://t.co/qQkENFLMb5— Nina Hart (@Nina Hart)1550761467.0
“People did more than just report issues. They also wrote directly to the trees—everything from banal greetings and… https://t.co/TDRkfANqhS— Stacie Frazier (@Stacie Frazier)1550728419.0
As if I needed another reason to love Melbourne! People there write love letters to trees?!?https://t.co/CuyaZqddH4— Veronica Simmonds (@Veronica Simmonds)1550777879.0
A willow leaf peppermint and a curious onlooker ended up having a conversation about gender being non-binary.
"To: Willow Leaf Peppermint, 29 January 2015"
"Hello Mr Willow Leaf Peppermint, or should I say Mrs Willow Leaf Peppermint?"
"Do trees have genders?"
"I hope you've had some nice sun today."
After which a brief lesson in dendrology occurred:
"30 January 2015
"I am not a Mr or a Mrs, as I have what's called perfect flowers that include both genders in my flower structure, the term for this is Monoicous. Some trees species have only male or female flowers on individual plants and therefore do have genders, the term for this is Dioecious. Some other trees have male flowers and female flowers on the same tree. It is all very confusing and quite amazing how diverse and complex trees can be."
Mr and Mrs Willow Leaf Peppermint (same Tree)"
While a red cedar weighed in on the EU debt crisis in the wake of Brexit:
"Western Red Cedar, 1 July 2015
"Are you worried about being affected by the Greek debt crisis? Should Greece be allowed to stay in the European Union?"
To which Red Cedar replied:
"2 July 2015
"I seem to remember the Greeks razed you to the ground one time—are you still angry at them?"
"Greece is not out of the woods yet, but may be out of the EU….Some say that they should be allowed to devalue their currency in order to recover their economy, but the EU will not allow them to do that. Some say that it is partly the austerity program, which has made it this bad. They say austerity was a disaster for Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union and for the recovery of Asia from the GFC…"
"I don't know, but then I'm only a tree."
Western Red Cedar"
Who knew trees had such insightful things to say about current geopolitical debt crises?
I would write love letters to my favourite trees too. @ParkBoard ? #trees https://t.co/IpidwtNRgT— M Chand (@M Chand)1550797016.0
Melbourne gave 70,000 trees email addresses so people could report on their condition. But instead people are writi… https://t.co/a7IouLS4yA— ianVisits (@ianVisits)1545123709.0
Here’s for some wholesome content: Melbourne gave email addresses to its trees so people could report on their cond… https://t.co/0FWl230EoU— Jennifer Scheurle (@Jennifer Scheurle)1544681532.0
If nothing else, it is encouraging to see how much Melbourne cares for its trees.
And somewhat therapeutic, likely, for passers-by to share their deep-seeded-tree-centric feelings.
What a cool unintended consequence.