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Some people talk to their plants. In Melbourne, they email the trees. This became possible thanks to a decision to map every tree in the city and give it a unique ID number.

About 3,000 emails have been sent to individual trees in the last two years. This didn’t start out as an exercise in sentiment, but a hard-headed attempt by Melbourne city council to manage an urban forest in decline – as a result of drought, by 2009 40% of the 77,000 trees in Australia’s “garden city” were struggling or dying

Pasted from <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33560182> trees-melbourne

Selected treemail Below (July 2015)

Weeping Myrtle, Tree ID 1494392

5 July 2015

Hello Weeping Myrtle,

I’m sitting inside near you and I noticed on the urban tree map you don’t have many friends nearby. I think that’s sad so I want you to know I’m thinking of you. I also want to thank you for providing oxygen for us to breath in the hustle and bustle of the city.

Best Regards, N

Gum, Tree ID 1032002

11 July 2015

Dear Gum,

Apologies if that’s not the form of address you prefer. I wanted very much to tell you how much I miss your family. I’ve lived in Texas for two and a half years now, and I so fervently miss the heady scent of your cologne as the morning sun warms you.

I miss your gentle swish swish as the wind tousles your leaves playfully. I miss your strong white trunk, rising majestically from the earth, striking up towards the clouds. I miss the dappled shade you so generously provide.

The sound of magpies, harbouring in your foliage, does not grace my ears. The silver green of your long, lithe leaves does not appear in my current surrounds.

I miss you, Gum. I miss all that you represent for me. Stand tall and strong, and know that my heart reaches out to you across the seas.

With immense fondness, A

Golden Elm Tree ID 1040779

11 July 2015

Dearest Golden Elm Tree, I finally found you! As in I see you everyday on my way to uni, but I had no idea of what kind of tree you are. You are the most beautiful tree in the city and I love you ^_^ It always makes me so happy to see you standing there minding your own business. I have to say, you have the most beautiful canopy and I love how the light green leaves on your branches contrast with the darkness of your trunk. We really should have more trees of your kind in our city.

Stay awesome.

Hugs! A

Variegated Elm, Tree ID 1033102

13 July 2015

Dear Elm, I was delighted to find you alive and flourishing, because a lot of your family used to live in the UK, but they all caught a terrible infection and died. Do be very careful, and if you notice any unfamiliar insects e-mail an arboriculturist at once. I miss your characteristic silhouettes and beautifully shaped branches – used to be one of the glories of the English landscape – more than I can say. Melbourne must be a beautiful city.

Sincere good wishes, D

Pasted from <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33560182>

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Resiliency

In groups I sometimes work with the idea of resiliency.
Resiliency ….. What does it mean to be resilient? Bounce back, bounce off of, withstand, remain standing. Is it a part of our hereditary, our inborn temperament? Perhaps it’s a positive self concept. An ability to remember the past, live in the present, and look to the future.
Could it also involve hitting rock bottom, being aware of limitations, seeking support? Perhaps it’s a mentor, a will to live, a focus on healing.
Could it be that resiliency is a connection with spirituality, a commitment to listen to others, a willingness to be truthful?
One thing is certain that resiliency is different for everyone, with some commonality mixed in here and there.
As a child, I found/rediscovered resiliency outside moving, often in my favorite tree.

A tree stands alone
Wind rustles leaves together
We sway arm in branch

As an adult, I have found resiliency many places and many ways. Often, in combining the practice of creative movement, tai chi and hatha yoga, something I first learned to do  in a Creative Dance Class in 1983. Something that I teach/guide individuals and groups to do whenever I can.

2 lie

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It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen. Matt Groening

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Poetry Writing with Clients

Writing a poem for the first time can be intimidating, but there are many possible ways to get started. In this post I’ll talk about just one of them, which is a list poem.
Defining a Poem
The first step when introducing poetry to clients is to define poetry. Show what a poem looks like on a page. Explain that a poem is usually short, and that each line has a fixed length. It uses carefully-chosen language to express a feeling, and sometimes uses rhythm, rhyme, or repetition.
Writing a List Poem

A list poem is a poem in which each line begins the same way. List poems are wonderful for beginning writers especially, because the start of each line is provided, creating a comfortable way in (at least I have this part that I can write, and know I’m spelling it correctly). A list poem can be simple and powerful. One client, who struggles with depression, wrote a poem in which each line begins, “I love” followed by one thing that makes her feel happy.
5 Tips for Writing a Successful List Poem:
Read poems together as a group, to get clients familiar with the sounds and rhythms of it. After reading a poem, ask if there is any line that clients like or find interesting. Ask why they like it, what makes it stand out. Keep your ear open for things clients say—does something sound like a list poem? “Every morning I…” “I want to read…” “If I had a million dollars I’d…” “I love the way…” The possibilities are endless.
When clients are ready to begin writing, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Be specific
Help clients bring their poems to life by including specific details. In other words, show, don’t tell. “I wake up early,” becomes, “I wake up at 3:00 am every morning to go to work.” Instead of “I cook Chinese food” help the client write, “I cook catfish with spicy sauce.”
2. Five senses
Can you see this poem? Can you hear it? Smell it? Feel it? Taste it? Is this poem bringing a world to life? If not, think about describing with the five senses.
3. Order
Pay attention to the order of the list. Does it have a beginning? A middle? An end? Does it need an additional line to bring it to a close?
4. Word Choice
Think about word choice. Could another word be more effective? Sometimes beginning writers want to use the word “beautiful,” but write “nice” instead because it is easier to spell. Help the writer actualize the poem in her mind.
5. Edit
Don’t be afraid to edit. ‘Make it Messy’ is a good mantra for first drafts. They should have crossed out parts and additions. Are any items in the list extraneous? Are there unnecessary repetitions? Help students build the confidence to edit themselves.