Making Connections with Nature and With Each Other:

Invitation to "A World Community of Old Trees" Web Project

Dr. June Julian

Copyright 2000 June Julian

All rights reserved

InSEA 5th European Congress, Poznan Poland, June 2000

Mark Twain said he could write thirty pages in two days with no problem, but he explained that to write 2 good pages, he would need thirty days! I feel I would need at least a month to tell you all about the Web project, "A World Community of Old Trees". In these two pages, I will present a brief overview and show examples from children and adults from around the world including Lithuania, Australia, and the United States. The following images show best how people are making connections with nature and with each other on the Web and they speak most eloquently all by themselves.

The project really began in my studio. For many years, I had been painting the oldest, largest, and most amazing trees that I could find near my home and in my travels. So, it seemed very natural for me to launch " A World Community of Old Trees" as my on-line dissertation study in 1996 and to invite the world to join in. My research objective was to examine the potential of the Web as a medium for communication and exchange for ecology art education.

Now, with a life all its own, the project has become its own little ecosystem, with individual participants interacting within a shared digital environment. From original study, to postdoctoral research, to becoming an online university course, it has undergone many interesting permutations over time, and continues to show the power of the Web to join people and ideas.

The 3 main components on the Main page, Tree Gallery, Tree Museum, and Tree Talk, provide for maximum participation. The Table of Contents link shows the participation in each of these areas. Within the Tree Gallery, is a special Student Projects section with 13 schools participating so far. The Project Instructions include locating and identifying the oldest, largest, or most extraordinary trees in your area, documenting them, and then e-mailing your materials to the project site. All media are encouraged and welcomed. Poems, legends, stories, drawings and paintings, photos, and a sound file have been sent in so far.

The first images in the Tree Gallery were two of my own paintings, Shadows of Generations, and Cottonwood, documenting the largest Plains Cottonwood tree in the USA which is located in Colorado. It is approximately 400 years old. An interesting feature about these pages and many others, too, is that you can read visitors’ e-mail comments at the bottom of the page.

Later, I put in paintings of old trees from my travels in Venice and Verona Italy, Gethsemane Olive and Goethe Cypress. This olive tree which grows in the Redentore Monastery garden on the island of Guidecca was originally brought from the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, and the Goethe Cypress is supposed to be the oldest cypress tree in Europe.

Quite early, Edilberto Soto Hernandez sent in beautiful photos of the Tule tree in Oaxaca, Mexico. There is quite a lot of information on the Tule tree in the Tree Talk section, including preservation groups and a legend of the tree.

Over the years, many other artists worldwide have sent in their work, including Berenice D"Vorzon’s Roots series, Glenn Rice’s Missouri State Champion Burr Oak, and Nancy Schneider’s photos of anthropomorphic trees in Long Island, NY.

For me, the most exciting material has come from the world’s children. Students from Lithuania have contributed research on the Pagryniu Oak with description, legends, and art work. The tree grows near Silute and is a registered national monument. There are separate links for Gabriele, Henrikas, Edgaras, Viktorija and Gintare, Ruta, Andrius, and Evelina.

There has been extensive involvement from other countries as well. A Japanese student sent in her documentation of the Jomon Cedar, the oldest tree in Japan, growing on the island of Yakushima. Students from Australia, particularly, have sent in a lot of material. Rosemary sent in her research on the Wollemi Pine, the oldest species of tree in the world.

By far the most extensive research sent in by the world’s children has come from the Northern Territory of Australia. The Marrichila Class presents us with information, photos, and drawings of the Manggu and the Jumbarrich trees from their community.

Very early participation came in from the Washington Edison School in Texas.

These first grade children documented the 60 year old pecan tree in their schoolyard with their pictures and poems. Also from the USA, fifth graders from the Thomas Jefferson Magnet School in Ohio sent in documentation of remarkable trees growing in their neighborhood. The prize for a child‘s most special tree should probably go to Kyle. He sent in a photo of himself proudly holding an apple tree sapling that grew from a discarded apple core in his garden.

Elementary school students from North Carolina sent in a wonderful project based on their neighborhood Northern Catalpa tree and Kindergarten students from the Jardin Mundial School in Illinois celebrated their Honey Locust tree on Arbor Day. High school students from Albert Lowry High School in Nevada, documented the 4600 year old Bristlecone Pine that grows in the Great Basin National Park, with beautiful drawings and personal text. Good examples from their extensive research are Willie’s beautiful silver scratchboard and Amy’s pen and ink drawing.

"A World Community of Old Trees" connects people of all ages from around the world to each other, and to nature. I hope you will join us!

A World Community of Old Trees- http://www.nyu.edu/projects/julian/

Project Bibliography- http://www.nyu.edu/projects/julian/papers.html