Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tell 'Em, Mags

A tree grows in Jackson Ward. But for how long?

Just last week on my walk, the friendly neighborhood craftsman who greets me most mornings had introduced me to a neighborhood sculptor. They were both all riled up about a proposal to 1) cut down the oak tree on the triangle at Brook, Adams and Broad and (wait, it gets worse) 2) close off Brook Road between Broad and Adams.

In an effort to fight back, they were asking for signatures on two petitions to stop the madness. I gladly took both begin evangelizing for the cause and collecting signatures.

As a 9+ year resident of Jackson Ward, I know that tree well. It's a major source of shade and greenery on an otherwise leafless stretch of Broad Street. Back in 2014, I was part of a group of neighbors working on the "Ephemeral Plan: Brook Road," a four week brainstorming session to re-imagine that exact area as something more of a vibrant and artistic neighborhood center.

Of the five groups working on ideas for the triangle and environs, only one dared to suggest cutting down the oak tree. I have to be frank: these outliers were immediately dead to the other four groups. None of us could fathom why anyone would suggest taking down the only major tree on that stretch of Broad Street.

I began collecting signatures on Thanksgiving Day and didn't stop until I saw that an online petition (cleverly named "Woodman, Spare That Tree") had been created, a far more efficient way to get a grass roots movement going. I signed it and notified those who'd already signed my petition to do the same.

Look, I acknowledge wholeheartedly that Jackson Ward is the logical place to situate a statue commemorating the great Miss Maggie Walker. I was even okay with it being placed in the triangle, but not at the expense of that magnificent tree. As the petition wisely noted, Miss Maggie, a devoted steward of life, would not have endorsed this shameful act in her memory.

That statement may sound wildly dramatic, but I'm in complete agreement.

We've got the whole of Jackson Ward to place that statue. Under one of the few live oaks in the city would be just fine, lovely even. What southern woman doesn't like a bit of shade when the sun gets hot?

And if not there, maybe on a roundabout on Broad Street as has been suggested, or down on Leigh Street where Miss Maggie lived. Or Abner Clay Park? The median on Belvidere where people turn into Jackson Ward on Marshall Street? How about somewhere on that big parcel of land VCU bought at the corner of Leigh and Brook Road?

Anywhere, really, except a place where a fine, old tree has to give up its life and shade-giving properties for the cause. Because I can assure you, I'll be right there with the owner of Restoration Hardware and everybody else who has promised the city a royal battle if they touch one branch on that tree's trunk.

Mayor Jones, when you mess with J-Ward, you're asking for trouble. We're a passionate bunch.

Woodman, spare that tree. Just look at all the people who agree:

No comments:

Post a Comment