I've been haunted the last few days regarding the new development at UCLA. In life, we pick our battles to fight and this is one of mine.
In the name of development, 900 new student units, I counted 27 mature stumps sawn off today in the grounds outside Reuben's school at UCLA, this a university that prides itself on being forward thinking and environmentally responsive. I gave up counting after this, the job of photographing was too painful, but I understand that the number of destroyed trees is around 90. I gave up too counting the rings because when you reach 50, the full impact just weighs too heavy.
Why could they have not been saved and replanted. My subsequent wading through reports and speaking to the press officers only confirms that there's a 1:1 replacement project in place with fancy palm trees on the architectural sketches. What effect do palms have on offsetting greenhouses gases? Little. And if a tree is replaced with a sapling, the net number of trees still declines. I find this so atrocious in a city such as LA which is struggling to breathe, let alone in a century such as this.
Talking to one of the teachers afterwards, Reuben had been pointing to an area of the playground as if to say "Where are the trees?". This all happened whilst we were in intensive care for those 8 days and had I been there, I would have been hugging and trying to climb the trees to save them.
In our walks into Westwood Village past them every day, Callum would always sign "trees" and I'd sign "I say hello to the trees we see..." from Signing Time. I didn't have the heart to sing today.
I somehow wanted to preserve a bit and I've put aside a huge sewn off chunk with the view to collecting it tomorrow and having it made into a sculpture. Rarely have I felt such a heavy heart over a disastrous environmental impact so close to home. And why do I feel like a lone eco warrior right now?