Pining for the Pines

Shared by Tanya Farzaneh


The cold wind greets our faces like a hard slap on an unusual frigid spring day. The children, educators and college students gather outside with signs in hands and farewell wishes in our hearts; to bid goodbye to some the last remaining mature trees, one of the last urban forests on campus. They will be taken down. We are told ‘we’ are expanding and making more room for the growing student population.

We find ourselves situated and entangled; troubled in neoliberal orientations of production and consumptive relations, consumerism and disposability. Unsettled in this settlers world, how easily we dispose of what is no longer useful or productive. How easily we dispose of life. We question: what consumptive relations do we choose to live with? And what consumptive relations do we want to say no to?

“WHY?” cry out the children, ”WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT!?” They cannot fathom such a horrific act on the non-human residents and beings that share this land. This small green space home for many.

We wonder have they considered the needs and rights for the more than human citizens of this land. The hawks gather too flying above circling and observing the congregation. One hawk perches itself upon the pines, looking out upon us, while the other stares down from a nearby building. The sign affixed to the fenced off area reads “DANGER KEEP OUT”. The only danger here is we have lost our care and sense of responsibility to the natural world. The danger lies not on the site of these lands but in the hearts of those that have forgotten. Here we are called to question: whose voices have been silenced? Anger sets in as we question the legitimation of human centered logics and the active erasure of other stories and worlds, the erasure of the commons.

What does it mean to radically care for the pines and each other?

Children speak with compassion and kinship for the trees, the geese, the birds as people; as family. Somewhere, somehow we teach them not to. “Maybe a grammar of animacy could lead us to a whole new ways of living in the world, other species a sovereign people a world with a democracy of species, not a tyranny of one” (Kimmerer, 2013. p 58).

Anger, disbelief, and grief set in as we carry our message to the pines, sorrow that we could not help to save them, grief that we will lose them and anger to the disregard for life.

What happens to pedagogical relations when they/we are overwhelmed with grief?

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