“For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides—William H. Jackson”
The text engraved into a stone plaque that sits at the base of ‘The Tree that Owns Itself’. A tree in Athens, Georgia, that is accepted by the city as proprietor to its own land. Whether there is an actual deed in the tree’s name is unclear, however, this white oak has unprecedented autonomy in an age of exhaustive human ownership.
How can it be that trees, the largest organisms on earth have no sovereignty in our cities? At what point was this deemed necessary? How can we move on beyond the tourist attraction of a tree that owns itself to a re-prioritized chain of beings where trees are no longer considered entities of ownership, but instead an invaluable system of independent, life-giving organisms?
One way to remind one another of the significance of the tree is through the introduction of treeness; to encounter the tree and tree’s systems through a one to one experience. In relation with human body and tree body, we can begin to find sameness and variance. With connection, comes respect. With respect, comes prioritization and ultimately emancipation.