Andy Lipkis is something special. He has worked throughout his life to reduce smog, save water, and plant trees in the densely populated urban hubbub of his hometown, Los Angeles. Back in 1973, when he was in high school, he founded the nonprofit organization TreePeople; since then, he has worked closely with city planners and developers to ensure that trees have a prominent role in the city’s landscape. It’s not just for aesthetic appeal. The trees fight pollution and retain water in the desert city.
We can’t all be Andy Lipkis, but there is hope for those of us with more modest ambitions. Consider Corella Payne of Chicago: like many others, she finds herself worn out after a week of work. She restores her spirits each weekend by going to local parks, where she mulches trees, pulls weeds, and picks up trash. Or look at Bud Pearson of Idaho, a retired postman and Vietnam vet. To heal the lingering trauma of his time in the war, he crafts beautiful pieces of art by turning wood on a lathe.
In Ann Linnea’s lovely book, we are treated to mini-biographies of fourteen people who work with trees, professionally or recreationally. Along the way, we gain insight into the ecological importance of trees from a variety of angles. Logger Merve Wilkinson of Vancouver Island teaches about sustainable logging and harvesting; activist gardener Cass Turnbull of Oregon shows how to prune and thin trees (and explains why they must never be topped); businessman Glenn Cannon, general manager of Waverly Light and Power in Iowa, demonstrates that tree cultivation is essential for energy companies.
In some ways this is a how-to book. There is a ton of practical advice for folks with trees on their property, and there are plenty of suggestions for people who want to help the environment, and for people who just want to escape the grind of daily life. But this is also a book of good storytelling (try the chapter on North Carolina arborist Will Blozan, questing for the tallest trees in the country), liberally illustrated with color photographs of individual trees, forests, and pieces of woodcraft.
Check the WRL catalog for Keepers of the Trees