An unusual trend has developed in Melbourne, Australia, where people have begun to send emails to trees. That's right, trees.
This is thanks to a program set up by the City of Melbourne in 2013 as a way of making reports about fallen or dangerous branches easier to bring to the attention of officials.
However, the program has taken on a life of its own as citizens are now contacting the trees on a regular basis to either send them banal messages, love letters or express their personal dilemmas.
Speaking to The Atlantic, Arron Wood, a councillor for Melbourne's Environment Portfolio, said:
[It has had an] unintended but positive consequence. The email interactions reveal the love Melburnians have for our trees.
Members of the public can email the trees by sending messages to ID numbers that have been assigned to them.
City officials in Melbourne have now released a number of the emails but redacted the names of the senders in order to respect their privacy.
Here are a handful that we are sure that you will find interesting.
To: Golden Elm, Tree ID 1037148
21 May 2015
I’m so sorry you're going to die soon. It makes me sad when trucks damage your low hanging branches.
Are you as tired of all this construction work as we are?
To: Algerian Oak, Tree ID 1032705
2 February 2015
Dear Algerian oak,
Thank you for giving us oxygen.
Thank you for being so pretty.
I don’t know where I’d be without you to extract my carbon dioxide. (I would probably be in heaven) Stay strong, stand tall amongst the crowd.
You are the gift that keeps on giving.
We were going to speak about wildlife but don't have enough time and have other priorities unfortunately.
Hopefully one day our environment will be our priority.
In some cases, people have begun to take on the roles of trees, like this conversation between a student and a green leaf elm.
To: Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
29 May 2015
Dear Green Leaf Elm,
I hope you like living at St. Mary’s. Most of the time I like it too.
I have exams coming up and I should be busy studying. You do not have exams because you are a tree.
I don’t think that there is much more to talk about as we don't have a lot in common, you being a tree and such. But I’m glad we’re in this together.
29 May 2015
I do like living here.
I hope you do well in your exams.
Research has shown that nature can influence the way people learn in a positive way, so I hope I inspire your learning.
Green Leaf Elm, Tree ID 1022165
This is apparently how you discuss the tricky subject of politics with a tree.
Western Red Cedar, Tree ID 1058295
1 July 2015
Are you worried about being affected by the Greek debt crisis?
Should Greece be allowed to stay in the European Union?
2 July 2015
I seem to remember the Greeks razed you to the ground one time—are you still angry at them?
Greece is not out of the woods yet, but may be out of the EU….Some say that they should be allowed to devalue their currency in order to recover their economy, but the EU will not allow them to do that.
Some say that it is partly the austerity program, which has made it this bad. They say austerity was a disaster for Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union and for the recovery of Asia from the GFC…
I don’t know, but then I’m only a tree.
Western Red Cedar
Here is someone pretending to be a tree in the United States.
To: Oak, Tree ID 1070546
11 February 2015
Just sayin how do.
My name is Quercus Alba. Y’all can call me Al. I’m about 350 years old and live on a small farm in N.E. Mississippi, USA.
I’m about 80 feet tall, with a trunk girth of about 16 feet. I don't travel much (actually haven’t moved since I was an acorn).
I just stand around and provide a perch for local birds and squirrels.
Have good day,
Not everyone who writes to a tree receives a reply but it reinforces the recent move towards anthropomorphizing inanimate objects (think Amazon's Alexa) as a way of forming significant bonds with things beyond humans or animals.