A Small Group of People…

…making a difference reclaiming an old slag heap.

photo of a group of people on a snowy field
A Small Group of People © B. E. Kazmarski

In this case landscapers, Boy Scouts, construction engineers, grass roots leaders and individuals are planning The Liberty Tree Grove.

I rolled in a little late for a meeting with these people as we were to gather to work out the actual landscaping and signage, making sure it met ADA requirements. I am designing the signs, including a large interpretive sign at the entrance and several smaller signs.

The concept is to plant seven saplings from historic trees, each one honoring a branch of military service, and providing a way for individuals to read about and observe each of these trees and enjoy the hilltop views from the new park. The seedlings you see in the photo are two of the seven, which were planted last fall.

Trees have often been given significance through history as meeting points, property markers and commemorative points. The Liberty Tree concept is derived from the Revolutionary-era elm tree in Boston Common where the patriots met and proclamations against King George were given; many towns in the colonies adopted the same practice designating a tree in their own town under which to meet and plan the revolution.

The trees in this grove are grown from seed or cutting from trees that marked historic events or places or were planted in honor of a person or event. For instance, a honey locust grew near the speakers’ platform at the site of the Gettysburg Address, and the Gettysburg Address Honey Locust in the grove was grown from its seed, while the Patrick Henry Osage Orange is grown from a cutting of a 400 year old tree that is the focal point of Red Hill, Patrick Henry’s estate and resting place in Virginia.

The site was a strip mine, now reclaimed by the mining company to remove any hazardous waste, grade the land and add topsoil so that it can be safely reused. A grade school is on one portion of the land, and the park comprises several ball fields for different age groups, a playground, concession stand and this little triangle of a grove, right at the entrance.

I love working on projects like this. I’ve learned about Liberty Trees, met some interesting people with whom I may work again in the future and been able to share knowledge, skill and connections I’ve gathered from previous projects.

And not only to see the signs when they are installed, but I’ll also be going back with my binoculars to watch for birds. As we met at dusk birds were swirling and singing, and many migrants aren’t back yet. I can’t wait to see what shows up out there on that hilltop surrounded by tree-covered slopes.

The quote is Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

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