Last fall, I was strolling through the woods near Sylvan Residential Area and stumbled upon a mysterious mailbox residing about 20 feet away from a marvelous oak tree. Inside, the mailbox held a black-and-white composition notebook containing poetry, artwork, and love stories left by passersby. While reading, I was struck by the soulful connection so many strangers had felt to the large oak tree, and. I began to contemplate the social impacts of trees-- and tree loss. I tracked down the artist who started the notebook and decided to pursue the story for my Narrative Journalism class. I spoke with several UMass researchers in the Department of Environmental Conservation, read their journal publications, read a few books about trees/nature, researched through online databases, and continued to spend time observing at the oak tree. My semester-long quest to understand the social implications of trees and tree loss resulted in a 3500-word narrative piece that weaves together my mailbox discovery, tree anecdotes, and thorough research. Sustainability is at the core of this piece. In Massachusetts alone, around 5,000 acres of forest are lost each year, equal to about half the size of Provincetown. Trees and humans are beautifully interconnected. Without them, our social world faces a whirlwind of psychological, communal, and physical burdens. My piece tells the story of just one tree’s impact on the health, community, and well-being of the people who’ve crossed its path, and will make readers think about why we should care about tree loss.
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