Posts Tagged ‘stories’


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IMG_2872Artwork and paper-making by student of Walter S. Christopher Elementary School, Chicago


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The Center (http://www.thecenterpalos.org/) at Palos Park, IL hosted an Outdoor Women’s Retreat this summer. Tree stories were shared with some of the results below. Thank you Lois Lauer for sending these images.

women's reteat women's retreat 2 women's retreat 3

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Back in June I reported on the buzz at The Center in Palos Park, IL. Lois Lauer stopped by this last week to deliver a multitude of unique and beautiful handmade paper rounds for the Treewhispers project.  I wanted to share this update with the following letter she sent along with photos. Many thanks to Lois who enthusiastically embraced the Treewhispers project and to all of those who contributed their time, talents and creativity.

Dearest Pam,

    I cannot believe that it was 5 months ago already that you so graciously came down to the Center and helped us begin our Treewhispers journey.  All summer I meant to write and send photos but the garden always called louder than the computer! I will try to catch you up on what has been happening!

     At Farm Fest in June we had a papermaking table and dozens of folks made Treewhispers circles and strung them on lines to dry in the sun and then came back later to write on them. Great fun! We had a staff picnic in June and all the staff participated in making paper and writing on their circles including our director, who wrote about his first kiss under an oak!  The Junior Farmer classes made paper this summer at the farm and wrote on their circle. The kids were young, so some just wrote one word thoughts about what they liked about trees, like “shade.”  And the art students, both kids and adults,  continued to contribute creative circles and a few arrived by mail after we printed an invitation to participate in the July newsletter.  Additionally my family (ages 4 to 71) all made paper on our family vacation–more great stories!

     The “trees” looked so wonderful hanging in the Great Hall of the lodge this summer.  I hated to take them down, but space became a problem with big fall activities. I’d always said we’d send them on to you after the summer. Amazingly, we ran out of the little weights, with only 3 extra discs! How did you ever plan that so well? So it may be time for our little forest to join your big installation of trees.

     The Treewhispers  project has generated  lots of enthusiasm all summer and I am, and we  are, very grateful to you for creating this project and for bringing it to us! It’s such a beautiful blend of hands-on creativity, recycling old paper into something beautiful, and remembering and appreciating our connection with our dear tree friends. Plus it’s fun!  And there’s something very speciall about being part of a project that has a life larger than just the one circle of paper you make. What a great project you invented.  Thank you, Pam. We’ve loved being part of this.   


Lois, and the people and trees of The Center.

Program Director at The Center (http://www.thecenterpalos.org/)

12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park, IL 60464

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I wanted to share an incredible project relating to trees entitled “Seasons Rewound”—and the artists who created it, Barbara Pankratz and Barbara Johnston, both from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

They described it as a book five feet tall with an open back page spread that is 7 feet across. They used paper called weed block that they were able to purchase in 25 feet rolls, 3 feet across. They built all the pages then drew, painted and cut. There are three layers, the background layer, the tree layer then a little layer in the front with seven openings. The covers are matt board covered with painted canvas.

They mentioned that they spent one day a week for three years working on it. As they said it really was all about the process—they were not really concerned about the end product and they both felt the book literally made itself.

It was a wonderful collaboration. In their words: “The natural world is at the heart of everything we both do creatively. This oversize book was our attempt to represent a deep emotional and sensory connection to the changing seasons and to communicate our “larger-than-life” enthusiasm for the stunning visual experience this constant cycle affords.”image001 image002 image003 image004

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At the Legacies II Conference in Dallas, Tom Burns kindly shared his contribution to the Treewhispers project. Beautiful! Thanks Tom!!! IMG_5613 2

IMG_5826Photo by Pamela Paulsrud

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Photo by Lois Lauer/ The Center (http://www.thecenterpalos.org/)

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This Sunday, May 25, 1-3 p.m. at The Center in Palos Park, IL we are having a Little Art Show of tiny artworks and will give guests an opportunity to make tiny circles for the Treewhispers Project. You’re invited to join us!

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What an honor to spend Earth Day at The Center in Palos Park, a place “of celebration, enrichment, and healing—meeting others who shared a love for trees. Thank you to Lois Lauer for the invitation to introduce the Treewhispers project, to Marilyn VandenBout for her expertise in paper-making and to all those who so graciously shared their time and their stories. Stay tuned to see how you too can get involved with The Center’s partnership with Treewhispers.

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I wanted to honor my dad on this Earth Day—he planted so many trees—some say, whether you wanted them or not!

Thought I would share this artwork that I did for him on his birthday back in 1993. The quote, “He plants trees for another generation” is from Caecilius Statius, 220 B.C. The image is a hand-colored photo transfer of a tree belonging to my neighbors, Barb and Ed. If I remember right their son Matt brought the seeding home on Arbor Day. It was planted in their front yard and today it is a beautiful towering specimen. Makes me smile.




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The oldest trees in town
are now mostly gone
those that stood
in the hey-day of
the best of times

Grew with the first streets:
Oak street, Pine Street, Elmwood,
Maple town, Mapleton

They shaded the shiny promise
of bustling new businesses
when we sold three colors of tractors
and all the autos offered by Detroit

Willows lined the tortuous fairways
of the rich bottomland along the Maple River
trees aligned to foil the failed golf shot

Tall pines in the city park attended the
a perfect playground: branches
that would shelter our children in a safe haven.

Trees for ball parks, the swimming pool,
a Main Street with a bakery, a soda
fountain and a movie theater

Trees that stood watch over
our bastion of churches
where we learned of the next world
and gained faith in the good
to be found yet in this one

Red and yellow leaves in autumn
would swirl about your feet
as you walked with the ones you loved

In spring the tree planters would
kneel down again and mix the new roots
with the soil’s stuff of living and dead

With hope, love and a belief
that the trees–and this town–
would live forever.


—John Walter

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Visiting the willow tree was my reason for joining my uncle and cousin on their spring/summer fishing treks to the Washington Park lagoon, three blocks from our house and my grandmother’s flower garden where they dug up the worms for bait while I packed a picnic lunch because they never, ever caught any fish. While they baited their hooks at the edge of the lagoon, I climbed into the welcoming embrace of the sturdy willow branch that extended out over the water. With my back against the trunk and my feet dangling over the branch just inches from the water’s surface, I sang and cloud surfed and danced my whispered dreams. I skipped across the water with dragon flies, floated on the surface with the fallen willow leaves, inhaled spring and exhaled summer into the last autumn sunset.

Contributed by E. Kamuda, Chicago, IL

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Autumn gold…

Larry_ThomasArtwork by Larry Thomas, California


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A touching story…


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IMG_5474Artwork by Rosie Kelly


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Another story told to and recorded by the Court Reporter


2 In 1996 I was — I was pregnant with a baby. And she

3 and I got sick. She passed after she as born. And

4 we moved shortly after to a new home. We had to

5 move. And in order to heal, I found myself trimming

6 underneath this huge evergreen tree that was in the

7 very front of our yard. It was very close to the

8 house. And in time, to recover, I was really sick

9 from it. It took about a year. And I stayed

10 underneath the tree. And just no one had ever

11 trimmed it, and it was just huge (indicating) and

12 tall. So I would just climb up and trim the dead

13 branches.

14 And then we moved from there, and eventually someone

15 bought that home. And then I saw that that tree was

16 up for an option for the Botanic Garden. They were

17 looking for a Christmas tree, and they had their eye

18 on three different trees in the area. And they ended

19 up choosing that tree. And so it was like in the

20 newspaper. They cut it down. It was very close to

21 the house. And so they brought it to the Botanic

22 Garden. And they put, like, 10,000 Italian lights

23 on. And it was the Christmas tree for that year

24 And I called up the woman who ran it, and I said



1 that’s a really special tree to me. And I told her

2 my daughter’s name, Zahava, and she called it

3 Zahava’s tree. And we visited, and we took a

4 picture.

5 Then many many years later, as I was working with an

6 intuitive, clearing different things, she said to me,

7 “Well, I know that you are Jewish, but there’s this

8 Christmas tree, an evergreen tree, crumpled in your

9 spine, energetically speaking.” And she said, “Does

10 that make any sense?” And I said, “Yes, it makes a

11 lot of sense.” So, I told her what my connection was

12 to that, and we cleared the tree, the tree — all the

13 gifts the tree had given to me, and its connection to

14 that event and to that time together that we spent

15 together.

16 There’s more to the story, but basically — I mean, I

17 have poems about it and writings about it. But

18 basically that’s one of the stories of being

19 connected to the tree, and that it says in you, you

20 know, you don’t go far. They don’t go far.

21 Oh, I know what the connection is. Then there was

22 Yom Kippur coming up, and Day of Atonement. And I

23 went to a river, and I played the flute, and I think

24 I tossed some kind of prayer. It landed on a leaf on



1 the river, and it floated down. And then I went to

2 the person’s house where this tree was. And I

3 knocked on the door. And I said I need to just

4 connect, make a connection with the place where this

5 tree had been. You see that dip in your — you know.

6 She said yes. They were the same couple that donated

7 the tree. And I went to that spot. I think I

8 brought flowers and I brought water, and I played the

9 flute just to make our connection with the leaf full

10 circle. That was it. That was the story for me.


Contributed by Leslie Schechtman

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When I was eight or so I knew a spectacular tree. It green in a large open field where multi acre lots all converged. No one seemed to own it. I loved this tree the most on windy days, where high in its branches I could move in unison with its dance to the wind. Sitting way at the top, it was as if the rest of the world melted away and all that existed was unlimited blue sky in which to dream.

Contributed by Barbara Palmer

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Wanted to share my final project for a course I took this term on Humanist Bookhand from PSC member Christine Colasurdo .   I have loved to draw trees ever since high school art, but rarely incorporate them with my calligraphy.  The trees are done in walnut ink with a fine point pen.  The color is all Prismacolor pencils,which I was introduced to by another PSC member (and teacher at CNW), Kristen Doty.
 Photo and artwork by Marianne Nelson 

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Photo by Lindsey Pennecke

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When folks come together around a campfire…there should be time to just sit quietly and listen. For the songs of the fire are sacred!

Those songs come from the spirits in the wood. They sing about the sun blinking on and off… they sing about the wind and the rain…they sing about the seasons. Their songs are part of the sacred songs of the Earth…given to us as a reminder of days gone by.

The history of the wood is in those flames and in those songs…stories of the Earth…which will not be told again in that same way. And that smoke in the tree giving its body back to the Earth…its work is done…and its Spirit rises to leave this place forever.

Watch that fire…there are Spirits in there…some you know…and some, you have never known. But they are like messengers and are there to explain things to you.

Campfires give us that opportunity to listen…and to hear those special stories again. Ordinarily we don’t have the patience to understand the way trees speak…the way they form their words…the way they use gestures. Such things are foreign to us and we might be frightened. So they send their messages up with the smoke…and it is sacred…and it is part of our oral traditions.

So when you are sitting around the campfire with friends…share this wisdom. Encourage others to listen to the songs of the fire; that they might feel that sacred message too…and find that deeper understanding of Earth Mother’s ways.

Ho Hecetu Welo!

An unknown Elder

This story was by Rob Miller at the flute circle/Mitchell Indian Museum

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