Jennifer Houghtaling is a municipal councilor for Cumberland County in Nova Scotia. She is also an artist and potter who tends to express her beliefs through her art. This piece called “We are the Bear” was created after reading a book* about the melting ice in the north that causes the polar bears to become stranded out on the ice surrounded by ocean.
Planting trees was literally a ground breaking moment in my life and likely most tree planters who could actually tough it out and stick with it. Not only do you meet so many interesting people, you also interact with nature and realize how much impact humans can have on forests. I was part of a program to manipulate nature for production, and it created an awareness that changed the way I live and work.
Suzanne Simard (Finding the Mother Tree) writes about the relationship between trees, how they nourish and support each other. There is something to be said about the way Nature works through cycles and networks and often I think that humanity could thrive if we just took a moment to learn from the trees.
The Cumberland Climate Hub formed in the spring of 2021 and it was recommended that we begin with a project that was simple and gratifying. The idea of planting trees came up as a way to do climate work without the doom and gloom and to avoid confrontation within our communities. So we acquired about 500 trees and planted some ourselves and also handed them out at local markets along with a handout educating people on the Climate Hub, tree species and carbon sequestration, asking those who took trees to share photos and allow us to contact them in 1 year to check on the trees. Unlike tree planting for large forestry companies, we focused on planting a variety of species that would work together to bring back diversity in our forests. Hemlock, white pine, red and black spruce and yellow birch were planted throughout Cumberland County in June of this year, with plans to continue our work and we hope to do more planting in the future. Of course, 500 trees is a drop in the bucket compared to what is being harvested, but it felt like a good start and really allowed us to figure out who on our team did best at each aspect of the project.
The Cumberland Climate Hub members worked together and engaged with the residents who were very happy to be a part of this project and plant trees. Several photos were shared, and conversations about why we are motivated to do this and what is important about it. The members had to learn about tree species and where certain trees like to live, which is an important part of “the right tree in the right place for the right reason" a quote from Nature Canada who gave the climate hub a presentation on the 2 billion trees program through the federal government of Canada. Some local organizations such as Sunset Community and the Dr. Carson Marion Murray Center both planted trees. We are looking to find others to collaborate with to grow the hub and the forests in Cumberland County.