Does it seem odd to hug a tree? There is a children’s book with that title, but adults may not ever think about doing it. That’s why Jerry Rubin and his wife Marissa, local tree activists, are bringing Tree Hugging Day to Santa Monica on September 22.
Described as “a non-partisan and open-to-all simple and loving way for people to show their appreciation and caring for trees,” the event at its most basic will involve people stopping wherever they are to hug trees and contemplate the “life giving benefits that they provide.” There will be a “group tree hug” at noon at Santa Monica’s Children’s Tree of Life on Ocean Avenue at Colorado, just north of the gateway to the Santa Monica Pier.
Jerry Rubin, who founded the Treesavers action group two years ago to save threatened trees, and who is currently supporting the creation of an Urban Forest Commission, explained to the Mirror why he created this new special day.
“I don’t think this is the first tree-hugging day ever. In fact, I Googled Tree Hugging Day and there’s groups that have been doing this over the years. I thought it would be good that we have one in Santa Monica. People can participate even if they don’t live in Santa Monica. But I believe in the old adage: think globally, act locally. If it branches out (laughs) to other places, that’s fantastic.”
Why did he choose September 22 as the day? “As someone who has organized over 200 events, I know it takes time to do it right and I thought, since schools are going to be on vacation, it would be better at a time when the schools are back and the students can participate. Then I was looking at the calendar and suddenly, there it was: the autumn solstice on Tuesday, September 22. I thought what a perfect time to have Tree-Hugging Day.”
Interestingly, Tree-Hugging Day has gained the support of a number of civic leaders and organizations. Mayor Ken Genser has issued a commendation urging the community to support Tree Hugging Day, citing the Rubins’ efforts in “encouraging our community to hug trees on September 22 as a positive demonstration of our love of trees and our natural environment.” Support has also been expressed by Ralph Mechur, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and by Santa Monica College Board of Trustees chair Louise Jaffe.
Jerry Rubin is pleased with this support and hopes that more people will cast off their tree-hugging inhibitions. He suggests that people “start practicing now to get into great tree-hugging shape.”
“It’s kind of like Earth Day-tree-hugging day can be any day, if you feel like hugging a tree.
“People over the years have wrongly disparaged environmentalists and put a negative connotation on the words ‘tree-hugger.’ I think we can help to make that a more positive statement or label.”
For information about Tree-Hugging Day go to treehuggingday.com or call 310.399.1000.