I am thinking about treehouses these days, imagining what it would be like to live wrapped in the canopy of a tree. I am feasting my eyes on Pete Nelson's book New Treehouses of the World.
Who knew there was a treehouse building school:
Think Swiss Family Robinson and imagine yourself in the trees.
Here is Stewart Brand's summary of Alan Weisman's talk last night before the Long Now Foundation.
On the border of Ukraine and Belarus is a small intact remnant---500,000 acres---of the primordial forest that once covered Europe from Siberia to Ireland. In the Puszcza Bialowieska, with its towering ash and linden trees and dense growth, Weisman felt he was in the forest of Grimm's tales. "It felt primally familiar. It felt like being home. I realized that people really want that back."
Buildings and cities without us around don't last long, his research showed. Water gets into every building, followed by rot, birds, and trees, and pretty soon all that's left is the bathroom tiles. The same with cities. New York is built on top of 40 streams. To keep the subways functioning, 13 million gallons of water have to be pumped out every day. If the water returns, it won't be long before the tall buildings lose their footing and topple.
Maintenance people emerged as the heroes of the book, Weisman said. Without their vigilance and toil, everything collapses. They are the bedrock of civilization.
At the New York Botanical Garden Weisman found that the 40-acre preserve of carefully protected original forest has transformed itself over the years into a new woods dominated by alien plants such as ailanthus and cork trees. The garden's curator told him something radical: "Maintaining biodiversity is less important than maintaining a functioning ecosystem. What matters is that soil is protected, that water gets cleaned, that trees filter the air, that a canopy generates new seedlings to keep nutrients from draining away into the Bronx River."
Plastic, Weisman discovered, is astonishingly durable, gradually accumulating in continent-sized gyres of floating garbage in the oceans. Instead of dissolving, the plastic just gets smaller in size and is ingested harmfully by every scale of animal all the way down to zooplankton.
Weisman's message is one of reconciliation. Wherever humanity backs its impact off even a little, nature comes swarming back. From the new part-wolf coyotes taking up residence in New England to the rare and exquisite red-crowned cranes prospering in Korea's Demilitarized Zone, accomodating nature always rewards humans.