The city of Melbourne assigned trees email addresses so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees.
To ensure ongoing correspondence between the residents of Melbourne, Australia and the city’s blossoming flora, officials assigned each tree an ID number as well an email address in 2013. This act was part of a program designed to make it easier for citizens to report problems like dangerous branches, but it ended up having “unintended yet positive consequences.”
As shared by City Lab, the chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, explained that officials implemented the idea so citizens could report issues, but they did so much more… People began writing letters directly to the trees, including everything from banal greetings and questions about current events to love letters and existential dilemmas. At present, the popular trees have received thousands of messages.
“The email interactions reveal the love Melburnians have for our trees,” Wood said.
Some of the heartening – as well as humorous – letters follow:
To: Algerian Oak, Tree ID 1032705
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.
To: Golden Elm, Tree ID 1037148
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?
Individuals from across the globe felt compelled to share their love as well! The following letter is written from the perspective of a tree in the United States:
To: Oak, Tree ID 1070546
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,
Besides being entertaining, these kinds of initiatives encourage civic engagement and help with city maintenance. A positive effect is that they also encourage people to build a relationship with their environment, hopefully inspiring them to participate in sustainable action.
To: Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
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.
Stories like this revive hope in humanity, yes?
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