TREE FOR THE FOREST (PARK)
Libby Reuter and Joshua Rowan
St. Louis, MO
This Cairn is made of glass cylinders, nestled inside one another, to mimic the growth rings of a tree. An actual tree gains one ring in each year of its life.
The Tree for the Forest part of the title reverses the old saying, “He can’t see the forest for the trees,” meaning that the person is too focused on the details (trees) to see the bigger picture (the forest). Watershed Cairns are markers to encourage people to stop and look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture here is the vital role of trees play in our watershed. Not only do they prevent erosion and filter pollutants from rainwater runoff, but they contribute to the air that we breathe: “A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide (from burning fossil fuels) at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings.”
When the City of St. Louis established Forest Park in 1876 at the edge of the urban area where smog from burning coal and wood filled the air in cold weather, the parkland was a wooded and rural retreat. The River des Peres flowed from the northern lowlands to the southern edge, and the southwestern part of the park was heavily forested. A small remnant of that original forest remains near the intersection of Skinker and Clayton Roads. This Cairn wasn’t photographed there, however, but in another forested area near the center of the park.