Trees in Paradise: The Dreamscape and Treescape of California

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Air date: 
Mon, 12/02/2013 - 10:15am to 11:00am
2 native and 3 non-native trees that define the treescape and dreamscape of California
California's treescape is largely a dreamscape defined mostly by non-native trees, which settlers planted to "improve" what they saw as brown barren treeless country. The principal native trees – coastal redwoods and sequoias were valued primarily as timber to build the infrastructure that fueled California's ferocious dreams of growth. As native trees were cut down in a frenzy, Californians thought they could replace the redwoods with fast growing Australian eucalyptus, which along with palms and orange trees, came to represent what's intrinsically Californian. But in time, each of these trees of dreams proved to contain the seeds of nightmares as well.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Jared Farmer, whose new book Trees in Paradise explores the connections between the transplanted people and trees that have shaped the landscapes and cultures of California. It's a discussion of what it means to belong or not belong, to be native, alien or invasive, and how the way we define the trees around us is a reflection of how we define ourselves and our neighbors.

At the head of this episode we speak briefly with Michael Gaskill of Portland Rising Tide about their blockade on the evening of December 1 of a megaload carrying massive machinery from the Port of Umatila, Oregon to the Tar Sands operations in NE Alberta.
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