If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
Playing in the rain and dirt

Playing in the rain and dirt

Original ideas are near extinction. We are all an amalgamation of our interactions and experiences. When we decided to spend a year living in a van, traveling across the United States, and volunteering along the way, our influences were manifold.

Keep I dianapolis beautiful

Keep I dianapolis beautiful

Our longtime friend, Jessica, spent 2017 celebrating her 40th birth-year by doing 40 acts of service. This was an extension of her already impressive resume of volunteering. People like her are part of our multifarious inspirations.

Knowing we’d be passing through Indiana’s capital city, we got ahold of Jessica to see if she had any volunteering recommendations. She gave us a few ideas, and wanting to take advantage of what we were sure would be pleasant spring weather, we settled on planting trees with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB).

KIB’s goal is to plant 100,000 trees in strategic locations throughout Marion County. As of this year, they’re almost halfway there.  As we’ve noted before, trees do so much for humans. They lower the urban heat index, provide shade, create a home for pollinators, and promote biodiversity. Another benefit they have in their repertoire is the ability to absorb storm water. In a city like Indianapolis, which doesn’t have the infrastructure to support its growing population, this is paramount. Anytime it rains more than a quarter of an inch, the city’s sewage system is pushed beyond its maximum capacity, and so the combined rain runoff and sewage spill over into the local streams and rivers. A mature tree can capture hundreds of gallons of rainwater each year, helping stem the tide of raw sewage.

The thing about trying to predict the weather in the Midwest more than five minutes ahead of time is that you’ll always be wrong. Making an assumption of agreeable temperatures and skies a week ahead of time was a mistake. Luckily for us, Jessica decided to join us on a wet and windy morning, and came prepared with towels, plastic baggies, and trash bags for all the inevitably mud covered clothes we were going to have.

After receiving detailed instructions from a local arborist on the best way to transplant a tree, we, along with more than 40 other Naptown residents, got to work digging holes, pruning, stimulating roots, transplanting, and mulching nearly 100 trees, all while getting preposterously dirty in the process.

With the last tree in the ground and properly mulched (seriously everyone, stop piling mulch on your trees in a volcano formation), we slogged backed to Jessica’s house, dried off, warmed up with some tea, and reflected on our day.

Trees inspire us. Beauty inspires us. Friends inspire us.

Be inspired to do more.