These are two great ideas that I know there is support for in Goshen, and which I think need to be further explored.
At our meeting we also talked about preserving and restoring urban woodlots, private and public; how to build and rebuild streets with appropriate space for trees, people, bikes and cars; and how to research the history of our local forests using “witness tree” archives from the original state surveys. And of course there were lots of side conversations with interesting people, like Carol Cavell of Trees Indiana in Fort Wayne, who is helping schools to build outdoor learning labs that integrate state science standards.
My head got packed full of great ideas in two days. I took Ind. 37 from Bloomington, Interstate 465 around Indy, and then headed north on U.S. 31. Around Kokomo it occurred to me that the point of all those ideas — indeed the real point of urban forestry, and any effort to care for the nature of place — is to slow down and notice where you are.
I got off U.S. 31. I headed east, going 25 mph through tiny Bennet’s Switch, where the railroad used to run, and then north again on two-lane Ind. 19. I crept through Amboy, Santa Fe and New Santa Fe across the glacial flatlands. Down into the Wabash River valley, and across the River itself in Peru, and then up again through twisting gullies and ravines. I saw Chili when I crossed the Eel River, then Gilead and its cemetery, Akron and Mentone.
Somewhere around Etna Green the land began to roll a bit more, due to the convergence of three ancient glaciers, as I learned at the conference. Nappanee, and then Ind. 119 for home. I rolled into Goshen just as dark was falling down into the beautiful woods that fill our own Elkhart River valley.
I looked around at the streetlights, at the lights in houses, at the dark trees, at the black water in the river. I thought of all the people here. I thought of all the things we do, all the things we want to do, and all the things we don’t do.
I thought, none of us really knows how lucky we are to come home in Goshen.