During the week leading up to Rochester's Global Climate Strike March of 9/22/19, the members and friends of Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action held a tree planting walk.The weather was sunny and hot, with temperatures in the mid-80s.
It all started at The Islamic center, with a gathering of about 75 individuals from various faith traditions and one giant inflatable Planet Earth, which was carefully rolled throughout the route. There was a short ceremony with words spoken by Abu Saeed Islam, who told us that the Koran tells us we are responsible for the care of the Earth and that we should not be wasteful. The ceremony was followed by planting a paw paw tree.
We then walked on to McQuaid Jesuit high school and had a ceremony during which a student read from the creation story, and we heard brief words from guest clergy Rev. Lane Campbell (Unitarian-Universalist) and Rev. Lauren McGrail (United Church of Christ). Father Al Hicks spoke, blessing a sweet gum tree which we then planted.
The third stop was Temple Brith Kodesh. Rabbi Peter Stein officiated and told us that Jews are instructed to plant a tree for the sake of our children, and also referenced the wisdom that if you have a sapling in your hand and were told that the Messiah was coming, you should first plant the sapling and then go out to meet the Messiah. We planted a yellowwood tree.
The final destination was Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church; lay leader Tom Upson spoke of the phrase in the creation story that humans have dominion over the Earth, meaning that we must take care of the Earth, and he also stated that trees are a symbol of hope. The last tree planted was a fringe tree.
The mood was festive and hopeful and joyous. This event highlighted common threads in our different faith groups, promoted community among people caring for the Earth, added CO2-using native trees to our area, and supported the Youth-led Global Climate Strike, emphasizing that action now is needed to leave the Earth healthy and habitable for future generations. Maybe a tree planting would be something more congregations or community groups could plan in the future.
We would like to thank Broccolo Tree and Landscape for assisting with tree selection and preparing the site, digging the holes in advance, and ensuring that everything we needed was in place. All trees were hardy native species and ones different from the limited species that are usually planted. And special thanks for those who transported water that refreshed many!