Singing for the trees

Event held on International Women’s Day

Elizabeth Brown of Little Lake, a member of the TreeSisters organization, leads a get-together on Friday afternoon at Peter Nordeen Park in Gwinn to honor women’s connection with nature and trees. Friday was International Women’s Day. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

GWINN — It was appropriate the women who turned out at Peter Nordeen Park on Friday ate muffins made with walnuts and other tree-related ingredients and drank chaga tea, made from a mushroom that often grows on birches in cold climates.

They were celebrating the “Sing for the Trees” event organized locally by Elizabeth Brown of Little Lake, a member of TreeSisters.

TreeSisters is a grassroots women-led reforestation organization, which put on the event on International Women’s Day. Sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, the day celebrates women’s achievements and aims to further their rights.

“Most of the people involved in it are women and that’s why they suggested we could do this for the trees,” Brown said. “We believe there are so many trees being chopped down.”

She said the loss of trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, causes that gas to increase, resulting in a greenhouse effect and climate change.

Why was Friday’s tree event geared toward women? It goes back to indigenous cultures, Brown said.

“They’re the ones who nurture the earth and remember where we come from because Mother Earth holds us as we walk,” Brown said. “It feeds us and gives us our air for our lungs, so that’s why we’re gathering to celebrate part of Mother Earth, which is the trees that support us so much.”

Food, songs, poetry and meditation were part of the event.

The TreeSisters “tree strategy” is detailed on the organization’s website at

“We plant trees to restore ecosystems and livelihoods whilst increasing protection against the extremes of climate change in multiple regions of the tropical forest belt. We do this in ways that recreate and restore natural forest ecosystems using indigenous species, fostering local knowledge and skills, and promoting women’s participation. We strive to do it intelligently, appropriately, respectfully and successfully.

“Forests play a vital role in the hydrological cycles of our world, sequester the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is driving climate change and provide the most biodiverse regions on earth. When trees are removed, vibrant ecosystems are often overfarmed, eroded and rendered infertile in a cascade effect that is mirrored with social decline, grinding poverty and climate extremes.”

TreeSisters, based in England, believes reforestation can rapidly reverse these trends by stabilizing and nourishing the soils, restoring watersheds, revitalizing dry springs and providing good quality water to large populations living downstream.

Its four primary environmental goals are protecting and expanding intact forest landscapes, restoring and protecting watersheds, controlling soil erosion, and restoring topsoil and land fertility.

Its main socioeconomic goals are improving community livelihoods and forest interdependence, and fostering women’s participation, empowerment and income.

Brown said she donates monthly to TreeSisters.

Although she said the women who attended Friday’s event weren’t members, Brown called them “Mother Earth lovers.”

One of those women was Patti Barrow of Little Lake.

“I think that the world just needs more positive energy,” Barrow said. “I try to do it in my own personal life, but I felt like that since there was something like this, I was going to come and try to project more positive energy: singing for the trees, to the trees, at the trees, whatever.

“I think it’s more like singing to the earth.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is