This year the 1000 paws, an informal group that manufactures collectively within Hotel du Nord explorations and then walks, is guided by the trees, with the starting point ForestA. Story of the first working session… This group is open, you can join it at any time by contacting the co-op. A first small group ended up in ForestA, not under a tree, but under an Umbrian in Cannes of Provence, made collectively with the collective Safi a few weeks ago to bring shade there the trees are not… We have time for a picnic to define a little more precisely what we would like to look for by taking the tree for guide. What are our questions, desires, intuitions that lurk behind the tree that today we are questioning? Invader, opportunist, whistleblower...? Vincent starts and tells us his questions about the Ailante. In his neighbourhood on the estaque side, this tree, originally from China and imported into the West during the craze for ornamental "Chinoiserie", is commonly regarded as an "invasiveness". The Ailante seems to be pushing everywhere and at high speed. So between the value that we have been able to give in the past (it has been widely used as an ornamental tree both in gardens and in public spaces) and its possible status of invasive plant to fight today, what to think?… This case of the Ailante becomes even more exciting when Dalila explains that the Ailante is one of those trees that love the land stirred, impoverished or degraded. More than an invasive one could say that it is an "opportunist", she knows very well enjoy the taste of the human of the cities to disburze, backfill, move the land and let them become the backstage of the construction. By its multiplication, one might even consider that it "gives the alert", that it calls us on how we manage the land on which we inhabit. In the garden of Vincent, the Grove of ailante has become an important subject, to contain but also to transform. In addition to the shadow it brings to this arid Hill, the aillante allows the companion of Vincent to make kinds of totems with the discharges and branches of Ailantes which each year grow rapidly. To go see! ForestA being quite characteristic of these degraded urban lands, interested in the ailante and this type of trees, in all these ambiguities and tensions that it reveals, seems to us motivating. Especially since the cane, which is the origin of the shadow that shelters us, is also part of these species both considered invasive but developing strategies to find the resources of the places (e.g. water) and it even become a resource on these lands degraded by men. So we decide this year to conduct a kind of investigation around the ailante and the cane (where, why and how they live, their uses and their stories, how they can become resource and stories to share…). From forestA to forest: a short history of a forbidden territory… From this first story, it seems obvious to us that it is necessary to prolong this question of "survival" on terrain as difficult as the disturbed and transformed lands of ForestA. But before that we go back to the name "ForestA". It is not just the name of a noble provenal family and its castle, an area of military operation, an industrial trough, an adventure field. It is also in the history of the word the term to designate a forbidden land, banished, on which it is ordered not to dwell or cultivate, in the interest of the seigneurial hunt. Thus appears the verb Forestare, "to ban". And as the hunt loves animals that love the Woods, Forestare gave forest! Restoring collective use to a land called ForestA? Once we know this etymology and the history of the places, again it motivates! Living on the ruins… But if the notion of "bandied territory" resonates well with our local situation, it must be noted that there is not, almost more, forest in ForestA. Were there any days? And how do the survivors manage to live there despite the urban upheavals, or the newcomers who chose despite the salty spray, despite the wind, despite the lack of water and the impoverished land to settle there? These survival trees are questioning us and we want to go and meet them. We therefore decide that a part of the explorations will be devoted to inventorate them, understand their strategies and listen to those trees that are there, witnessing another time or on the contrary agile to survive in particularly difficult conditions.
At the foot of my tree (can I live happily…?)
What about us? What are our more intimate relationships with one, two, ten trees? What are our tree stories?
There are those that are intimately intertwined in our life and our memory, like those few trees on Boulevard Henri Barnier who when we listen to Dominique end up telling the whole story of his house. Or the small olive grove where will rejuvenate near her Isabelle. But there are also those trees that carry legends, struggles, more collective memories that they can become a witness, an accomplice.
They are next to us or a little further, they connect us.
Sometimes our stories of trees also become a topic of everyday conversation. How do we size them at home or in the public space, how with them or sometimes against them we mark their territory, how they set usages but also borders in a neighborhood?
Listening to the stories of Stephanie's trees in the City Center (our picnic took place a few days after the first grudings of trees on the plain) and those of Sylviane in Saint Henri, we realize how the trees of a neighborhood become both a subject that engages the common but also the conflict.
We then decide to show ourselves these singular trees, to write and to tell our intimate stories with them, and also to leave in the footsteps of Sylviane to explore in more detail a part of St Henri, where the maintenance of the trees on a daily basis is a Active conversation between neighbors.
And then we end up remembering the poetic and imaginary power of the trees. It is remembered that Alice in Wonderland is rocking it by falling into a tree, that even botanists and scientists like Francis Hallé use poetry to name what can be learned, and that the affective dimension that the tree triggers in man will make it an excellent guide to walks with many voices!
Next exploration, Friday, November 16: to register here