Logo horizontal ruler


Tree-Hugging Day Sets Roots

By Jorge Casuso

August 18, 2009 -- Santa Monica activist Jerry Rubin -- who is often referred to as a tree-hugger -- admits he wasn't always comfortable hugging trees.

It's one thing to be called a tree-hugger, another to actually walk up to a tree in public knowing others are watching, put your face against the trunk and stand there hugging it.

Jerry Rubin Hugs a tree during National Night Out. (Photo by Jorge Casuso)

"I was always embarrassed to hug a tree," said Rubin, who created Treesavers, an activist group that fought to save the ficus trees Downtown. "People are afraid to hug a tree because people will think they're odd.

"Imagine if people labeled you crazy because you're a flower smeller or sunset watcher," Rubin said.

To help lift the stigma from the act of tree hugging, Rubin and his wife, Marissa, have declared September 22, the day of the Autumn Exquinox, "Tree-Hugging Day."

"People of all ages are encouraged to take a moment of time during the their work day, school day, or leisure day to HUG A TREE… or two… or three… or more… wherever you may be," reads a flyer Rubin is circulating and has posted on his web site.

There will also be a "Public Group Tree-Hug" at noon at the Children's Tree of Life in Palisades Park just north of the gateway to the pier.

"This says tree hugging is a popular thing and we want to bring it by popular demand," Rubin said. "Santa Monicans are concerned about trees. This is a way to make a very simple personal connection."

The Rubins are drumming up the support of Santa Monica's top institutions, including the City, the School and College boards and the Chamber of Commerce.

The City has issued a commendation to Jerry and Marissa recognizing their work to "enhance and preserve our urban forrest" and "encouraging our community to hug trees on September 22."

Last week, the Santa Monica College Board and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District threw their support behind Tree-Hugging Day.

"Trees are an integral part of a healthy planet, and raising awareness about the importance of trees can only help to ensure the wellbeing of our environment," School Board President Ralph Mechur wrote in a letter of supprt.

SMC Board Chair Louise Jaffe wrote, "This is a great opportunity for people to come together, to contemplate the importance of nature to all of us, and to expand our knowledge, appreciation and love of trees." .

"We at Santa Monica College are proud that we emulate the spirit of Tree-Hugging Day, day in and day out," Jaffe wrote. "Our deep commitment to the environment is evidenced by our continued efforts to make our college facilities and operations sustainable and to educate our students to become responsible, well-informed, environmental stewards."

Rubin hopes the visible declaration for the love of trees will help erase the negative connotations of the term "tree hugger," which thefreedictionary.com defines as a "derogatory term for environmentalists."

But if the testimonials of tree huggers posted online are any indication, it's hard not be self-conscious when walking up and embracing a tree with people watching.

"I wish it lasted a bit longer, but people started to appear there, and I felt a bit weird (I need to work some more on “not care what others think")," read a post on the web site 43 Things.

Still, most of those who posted comments agreed it was worth the risk.

"Today I went recycling, went for a walk, the sun was out, it wasn’t that cold either, and I thought I’d do this. I actually hugged several trees," another post read. "Thought it was relaxing."

But not everyone had a good tree-hugging experience.

"I had to because a friend dared me to, and I don’t suggest anybody does it any time soon," read a post signed "Strife." "The tree will not hug back, and you will probably get bitten by a bug like I did. Overall, I did not enjoy the experience."




Lookout Logo footer image
Copyright 1999-2009 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.