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Living Legacy Holiday Gifts

December 08, 2008
Baker Park in Seattle

Baker Park in Seattle

My posts over the last week or so focusing on finding living Christmas trees brought a comment from the Seattle Parks Foundation bringing to my attention a program whereby you may donate a tree, bench or swing (or even something smaller) to the parks program as a holiday gift. If you make your gift purchase by 12/18/08 you will receive a holiday card for your recipient.

And don’t forget, this isn’t just for the holidays. A gift like this makes a wonderful memorial, graduation or other special occasion gift throughout the year. Or, just give a parks gift “because”.

For more information:

7 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    While I’m a bit off topic from the blog posting, this seemed to be a good place to post a “participatory” park idea I’ve had for a while, but never tried to act on.

    I am interested in ways to get people invested in their built environment, from landscape to hardscape to streetscape. I am also interested in promoting the idea that you don’t plant a tree for yourself; you plant it for the next generation or the next owner.

    The idea is to set aside a square of parkland large enough for a 5×5 grid of mature trees – 25 trees total. How far apart should the average mature tree be planted? I’ll go with 20′ for illustrative purposes, though another distance might be more appropriate.

    So on with the plan… Set aside an 80’x80′ square of park, either as part of a larger park, or standalone. That size will accommodate a 5×5 grid of trees. But the grid is not planted all at once. That’s where the participation comes in!

    Each year, a school class (perhaps 6th or 9th graders – old enough to help in the physical labor of digging a hole, preparing the soil and planting a tree) studies botany, biology, plants, trees, maybe makes a leaf collection in the fall, etc. The students then vote on a tree they would like to plant as “their” tree in the park. They can choose any tree they want, from a Japanese Maple to a Giant Sequoia and everything in between, native or exotic. (Though the project could be limited to natives, I personally prefer the “botanic garden” approach of including any tree in the world that would survive the local climate). In the spring or other appropriate time, the students all participate in purchasing the tree and planting it.

    For 25 years, subsequent classes plant their own trees. Meanwhile, members of past classes can return to the park to see “their” tree mature. Perhaps they will picnic under it, inscribe their initials inside a heart on its bark, climb it, bring their children to see it, or some might even vandalize the tree. If a tree fails, its spot is left empty. It is not replaced. This is life, and things like that happen from neglect or poor choices. This year’s planters and other classes will learn from the failure.

    Each tree’s spot in the park can be left unmarked until planting time, or identified with a stone marker, or dated nameplate. After 25 years, the first tree is likely large and mature, while the current class’ tree is still a sapling. It’s time to start another square for the next 25 years of planters!

  2. Karen says:

    I have seen those benches at places like Golden Gardens and other parks, usually in honor of someone who has passed away. Seems nice to give it for someone living, who might actually go and sit on it!

  3. rhaglund says:

    Thanks for all the comments. I definitely like both ideas. Recently, I received a phone call from a father who had lost a child in the early 1980s. A memorial tree had been planted by a school in the child’s memory years ago. The father had moved away from the Seattle area long ago and was coming for a visit. He contacted me to see if I had any idea how he could track down the long lost tree. Putting Brian’s tree grid memorial space in action would certainly help with this kind of tracking in the future. Applying several honorary benches like Karen has seen around the memorial tree grid would make for a very special place.

    Years ago I lost a younger sister. I wish I had a bench to sit on as I remember her. I suppose I do have the Mendocino Headlands where we scattered her ashes, but it’s rare I’m able to go visit. It is powerful when I do.

  4. Willi says:

    What a cool idea! I always wondered how you went about placing a bench in a park.

  5. […] And, if you’re really looking for an opportunity to create a living memorial in a local park by planting a tree to visit year after year or install a bench where you might rest and reflect on your lovely surroundings, consider signing up with the Seattle Parks Foundation Living Legacy Holiday Gift Program. […]

  6. […] the Seattle Parks Foundation program that enables donors to give sustainable holiday gifts — a tree, a bench or a park swing. This holiday season, I decided to check to see if the program was still in action. Turns out it is […]

  7. […] And, if you’re really looking for an opportunity to create a living memorial in a local park by planting a tree to visit year after year or install a bench where you might rest and reflect on your lovely surroundings, consider signing up with the Seattle Parks Foundation Living Legacy Holiday Gift Program. […]

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