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Treesitter Falls to Her Death in Mt. Hood National Forest.
April 21, 2002 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Treesitter Falls to Her Death in Mt. Hood National Forest. 95% of our old-growth forests are gone. A coalition of grassroots organizations are dedicated to peacefully protecting our forests and watersheds, and have been quite sucessfull in Oregon and northern California. Sen. Ron Wyden D-Ore., an opponent of the timber sale, had announced a few days before that the U.S. Forest Service had reached an agreement to cancel the logging contract after an independent review determined the deal required significant modifications to prevent environmental harm, and tree sitters were days away from leaving the site after a three-year vigil. I appreciate the work and risks taken by these activists. More info at tree-sit.org.
posted by Mack Twain (38 comments total)

 
It's a shame that she had to die before seeing that her efforts had met with success.
posted by jaden at 2:19 PM on April 21, 2002


I always found it ironic that that girl who sat in the tree wrote a book when she got down. A book.
posted by owillis at 2:35 PM on April 21, 2002


They only care about old trees.

Although, yeh it is ironic...
posted by delmoi at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2002


We should plant a tree in her memory.
posted by mikegre at 4:48 PM on April 21, 2002


We're talking about trees that are more than 2,000 years old. They are not a renewable resource, unless medical advances will allow me to see a seedling 2,000 years from now. Sadly, sitting in them is the only measure left to prevent their destruction.
posted by fleener at 4:49 PM on April 21, 2002


and now, 95% of our old-growth forest-sitters are gone.
posted by quonsar at 5:16 PM on April 21, 2002


She died needlessly as the tree sitters were aware the concessions had been made the week before. There had been other tree sitters who had fallen to great injury. Climbing safety should have already been their first priority before the accidents. She should have been clipped in. It is sad to see a young person die in any accident, but she shouldn't be lifted up as a martyr to the cause for such a stupid and needless death.
posted by roboto at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2002


"We should plant a tree in her memory."
Or at the very least, as we read of her demise online, suddenly break into song beside our computers:

Woodman, spare that tree!
-Click here for Lyrics to all four verses!
-Click here for your Sing-Along accompianment!
posted by sheauga at 5:28 PM on April 21, 2002


If you climb a big tree, you should be either a) well prepared with safety equipment and some knowledge or b) prepared to suffer the consequences. Too many people are looking for martyrs in too many causes. The whole concept needs to be retired. I'm sorry but I don't think a tree is worth dying for. I love trees as much as the next guy (perhaps more) but I also love common sense and rational priorities, not to mention a critical eye for the difference between facts and propaganda. Sadly there is too much of the latter cloaking the real issues (and non-issues) in the environmental movement.
posted by evanizer at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2002


Oh, come on, someone has to say it:
If a treesitter falls in the forest, and there's no one there to hear, does she scream?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:56 PM on April 21, 2002


I shouldn't have wondered, though I did, how far into this thread the wisecracks would start.

A woman died, and died for something she believed in. You folks may reckon that this makes her a fool, but I think otherwise.

I must be getting old.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:09 PM on April 21, 2002


Yes, but if that "something she believed in" happens to be silly, or downright stupid, and pretty much derided or ignored by most people, well then...isn't heckling to be expected? I'm just saying.
posted by davidmsc at 7:34 PM on April 21, 2002


Sorry, but I'm a little wary of people that 'die for something they believe in' these days. Perhaps it's time to spread the word about that life is where it's at, and you only go round once and tht there may be no ancient tree gods to pamper you in Nirvana.
posted by evanizer at 7:39 PM on April 21, 2002


What she believed in had been achieved. What she was doing there a week later (other than dying) is a mystery to me.
posted by NortonDC at 7:42 PM on April 21, 2002


Sure they're weird, but the hippies are standing hard for the trees. Thanks hippies.
posted by Zombie at 7:52 PM on April 21, 2002


Perhaps I made a mistake in saying she died for something she believed in. This reeks a bit of zealotry. Better perhaps to say that she died doing something she believed in.

And if 'life is where it's at', daddy-o, then it seems to me that actually doing something, no matter how 'silly or downright stupid' it may be, to try and preserve life, protect it, and make a slightly greener and more pleasant world for the future, well, that seems to me to be a whole lot more deserving of praise and respect than sitting in front of my computer and snickering. A quote from the article : O'Brien was the kind of person who was, "Dedicated to life, to joy and to the living of life".... She was the founder of an organization that fed the homeless in Santa Rosa.' Nice try, evanizer, but no cigar. How do your credentials compare?

NortonDC - I hadn't (as usual) read the link in question until now. It does seems strange that she was up in a freaking tree 4 days after the cancellation of the timber sales.

I'm the first one to call 'bullshit' on clueless flower children, but there are some people painted with that broad brush who actually do some good, who don't buy into the kind of hip cynicism that has resulted in an America that's riddled with corruption, led by a murderous and greedy elite, distracted by trivia and short of memory, circling the bowl and awaiting the final flush. It sounds like that young woman was one of the people actively trying to stave off the decline. She deserves more respect, is all I'm saying.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:04 PM on April 21, 2002


Norton, it looks like they were preparing to dismantle the platforms they call "tree-sits", since their campaign had been successful. For whatever reason she failed to use an available safety connection.

In my mind they'll always be "flets".

Since I classify saving 500-year-old trees as "nice" but not "necessary" (2000 years is a big exaggeration; most of the trees in the area were fewer than 120 years old) I don't particularly feel that risk to lives is warranted, but the libertarian in me prefers to allow people to make their own decisions about such things. Unfortunately it didn't work out too well for her.
posted by dhartung at 8:08 PM on April 21, 2002


I always found it ironic that that girl who sat in the tree wrote a book when she got down. A book.

Sustainable "tree" farming. There's no conflict of interest in wanting to save old forests vs. using farmed paper from a 10-15 year old tree. Activists have more common sense then people give them credit for.
posted by skallas at 8:18 PM on April 21, 2002


Activists have more common sense then people give them credit for.

Sometimes, yeah. And the cause is a worthy one, or at least one worthy of being investigated further rather than being dismissed out of hand.

I'm with stavros that it is admirable that this young woman dedicated herself to something she believed in...heck, it's admirable that she actually believed in something.

But, I also see the "wisecrackers" point, that the common sense skallas speaks of should've included having some safety equipment handy. She could obviously have done a lot more for her cause being alive.
posted by jonmc at 8:44 PM on April 21, 2002


jonmc, she died falling while trying to climb up the tree. Its not like its been established that the entire platform was missing any safety gear. This is probably more a random accident than something based on gross-negligence or bad planning.

What's so funny about this? I have no clue. Millions die in accidents doing much more idiotic things for no cause at all, but toss in some activism of some sort and she's suddenly the stereotypical "treehugger" we can pile on. Its not really humor at this point its schadenfreude. It works best when you don't like the victim.
posted by skallas at 8:57 PM on April 21, 2002


skallas, read my post again, I'm not piling on at all. I right there with the wonderchicken, I've got nothin' but respect for anyone willing to put their ideals into action. Just saying that first priority of any risky endeavor is take all necessary precautions is all...
posted by jonmc at 9:03 PM on April 21, 2002


Officials took more than two hours to arrive at the scene, Ream explained, because they could not reach the remote location by four wheel drive truck and had to go back and get more help.

I suspect medical help might have been able to get there sooner had they cut some logging roads into the woods....oops, never mind.
posted by nobody_knose at 10:29 PM on April 21, 2002


She was the founder of an organization that fed the homeless in Santa Rosa.' Nice try, evanizer, but no cigar. How do your credentials compare?

My 'credentials' are just fine, chickenman, but even if they aren't, so what? It is up to people to make their own decision to help the world or not; I don't wish to hold anyone to a moral imperitive to do good. I may want people to choose that path, but I don't get all sanctimonious, sitting in front of my keyboard, when they don't. The only thing to morally expect of other people is that they won't do harm to you, unless you are doing harm to them and they are defending themselves.

This woman made her own decision and died as a result of an accident. Her convictions may have been noble, but what good did her death serve? When I was talking about life being where it's at, I meant one's own life, the protection of which should generally be a person's primary concern. Had she perhaps been more cautious, she might still be alive and feeding the homeless, a far more productive task than trying to save trees that were already saved.
posted by evanizer at 10:39 PM on April 21, 2002


Fair enough, evanizer.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:18 PM on April 21, 2002


tree-sit.org: "Tree sitters, however, said they would remain in the woods until the final paperwork was signed."

Also, if any of you have ever moved, you know it takes a little time to arrange for a new place and how to get you and your stuff there. They lived in that tree. If this was a "three-year vigil," I'm sure there were things to arrange.

Give up on the implication that they were somehow stupid for not immediately abandoning the tree after the tree-choppers made concessions.
posted by pracowity at 11:38 PM on April 21, 2002


I wasn't thinking of her as being a martyr, but rather as a young person who believed in a cause enough to devote her time and energy through peacefull civil disobedience with the goal of turning the government against itself (courts vs executive branch), because quite often the issues of importance to the people are never addressed by the government; thus the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement and the Environmental Movement have been grassroots movements which have lead rather than followed the government. Even if one has little appreciation for the issue of trees/watersheds, it's not exactly a radical idea to be disappointed with our governments failure to act in the peoples best interest in administrating our public lands. It's refreshing to see a new generation of activists willing to buck the system. I hope they will all be carefull, because I believe we need them.
posted by Mack Twain at 2:10 AM on April 22, 2002


I suspect I can understand why folks might be incredulous that someone would sacrifice there life for a mass of lignin and cellulose. Only it strikes me that this lady, and those like her, are not just sitting in the tree for the tree's sake. I always figure it was to save the forests as a whole, of which these old-growths are so much the foundation. Everything from bananna slugs and spotted owls, downstream to the salmon and seals are connected to these woods. Ultimately, so are we. This reminds me of something proverbial. Something about not seeing the whole but for the parts. Or as the late Damon Knight once quipped, though for other reasons, here you sit, a leaf on a twig on a branch in the wind, and you say there is no tree.
posted by piskycritters at 5:51 AM on April 22, 2002


Yes, but if that "something she believed in" happens to be silly, or downright stupid, and pretty much derided or ignored by most people, well then...isn't heckling to be expected? I'm just saying.

Why is trying to preserve the planet we live on "downright stupid"? It's not a question of individual trees. Human beings can be so narrow-sighted that we could use up / destroy most of our natural world without even noticing. Especially when work is translated into money - plenty of people would not pull down a 500 year old tree in order to get whatever little trinket it makes possible (I don't know if those trees are used for fuel or pulp or what), but the blindness of distance means people will pay money for the trinket and therefore people will pay money for the wood, and therefore people will cut them down...

Perhaps it's time to spread the word about that life is where it's at, and you only go round once and tht there may be no ancient tree gods to pamper you in Nirvana.

what reason do you have to believe she thinks any differently? Seems to me to strengthen the notion that we care for the one planet we've got, the one world we'll ever know, and that it's completely up to us to take care of it (no god to fix it, no heaven to migrate to).

Maybe the difference is zoe vs. bios - bare life, the kind of life we share with animals, plants, all living things, and meaningful life, "political" (in the aristotelian sense) life. Should we just appreciate life no matter what the conditions? If we managed to actualize one of those fictional dystopian worlds, would it still be better to hang on to bare life and stay quiet, or would risking your own life for a cause be worthy to you? And the thing is, it's thanks to people who fight that we don't achieve those dystopias, because the majority of us are too stupid and narrow sighted to notice how we affect our only planet.
posted by mdn at 7:02 AM on April 22, 2002


sounds to me like she'd climbed this rope hundreds of times before and probably didn't always use the safety equipment (how many of us ALWAYS use our seat belts even though we know that a car is one of the most dangerous places to be?). i think it's very sad although yes, at least she did die doing something that she believed in.

i was wondering while reading this thread if an athlete who had died in some similar accident would have gotten less heckling than "some hippie." but then i remembered that this is metafilter (no respect for the dead--no matter who you are!).
posted by witchstone at 8:41 AM on April 22, 2002


What heckling? There've been a total three posts that had "black" humour in them, a bunch of posts that are sympathetic to her, and some that ask whether she was using safety equipment appropriately.

If y'all think this is a hard thread, you need to go hang out with ambulance paramedics for a day or two.

Go take some ex-lax, ya tightasses.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2002


witchstone - how many of us ALWAYS use our seat belts

Me, for starters. Anyone who doesn't is a fool, and anyone who doesn't while driving is a menace to everyone else on or near the road.
posted by NortonDC at 9:03 AM on April 22, 2002


our only planet?
We don't own this puppy. We're only passing through. And I guarantee that this planet, life and all, will survive us.
posted by gnz2001 at 9:11 AM on April 22, 2002


We don't own this puppy. We're only passing through. And I guarantee that this planet, life and all, will survive us.

Whether or not the human race will survive with it, however, is another matter.
posted by calistasm at 4:17 PM on April 23, 2002


Of course we own this planet. As the only species capable of having a concept of ownership, we're the only ones who possibly could.
posted by kindall at 4:28 PM on April 23, 2002


Many species mark and defend territory.
posted by gnz2001 at 4:44 PM on April 23, 2002


As demonstrated above.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:07 PM on April 23, 2002


We don't own this puppy. We're only passing through.

It's still our only planet. Possessives needn't imply ownership, just a relationship (see, "my boss", "our father", "your religion" etc)

Of course we own this planet. As the only species capable of having a concept of ownership, we're the only ones who possibly could.

b doesn't follow a. Just because we're capable of a concept doesn't mean we fulfill it, as evidenced by numerous would-be World Dictators in mental institutions.
posted by mdn at 9:27 AM on April 24, 2002


Why is trying to preserve the planet we live on "downright stupid"?

Because the tree-sitters are not trying to "save the planet," no matter how sincerely they believe that they are. Our planet is not in any danger of "dying," and we are not in any danger of running out of trees, old or new.

Us anti-ecowarriors are entitled to opinions too, right?
posted by davidmsc at 7:54 AM on April 27, 2002


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