Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

A Community of Trees

Summer is  here and thinking about my next essay in my tree series, the phrase, “forest for the trees” comes to mind. I took a pause to contemplate what that really means. That we don’t see the big picture? That we are too focused on detail? I gently nuanced my way into the idea of the duality of human nature, community vs. separateness.

This brings to mind my neighborhood. While we all live in a type of  “bungalow” style, our commoness also derives from the physical closeness of our homes. My next door neighbor a few short steps from my door. Together these  disparate little houses provide a sort of fortress, a living, protective barrier that encircles our neighborhood community.

Inner lights are like beacons for those coming home in the dark while they warm and illuminate those inside. Each in our self-made cocoon, exclusive to us, but only having to glance out the window to see the silhouettes of those next door, across the street.

There are a multitude of other images: huge, dense crowds, populated by single independent individuals, but viewed as a stationary or moving mass, united behind the admiration of a music band, a march for justice, a support group for a favorite sports team. Strangers coming together to form a temporary community for strength and power.

Within a mass of green in summer or a kaleidoscope of colors in fall, a closer look reveals diverse leaf shapes, a variety of cones and seeds, different bark textures and branch formation. These unique complexities contribute to form an ever expanding canopy that masks the separateness of each tree, like crowds of people clammering to make to it the front row, rushing for a subway car or gathering outside a ticket office in the early hours of the morning to get the best seat. Their aloneness seemingly lost inside the horde, but actually contributing distinct personhood to the whole.

Like trees that crowd together, housing living things, sheltering and shading, humans gather to celebrate, to rejoice, to help. We step out of the safe, small circle in which we live into a wider expanse of bodies and energy. To shift the balance from private and personal to community consciousness. We nourish each other like trees protecting the young while they grow or the sick while they heal or the downtrodden until they get back on their feet. An underlying network that binds us together, invisibly, forging a foundation of humanity.

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