Wednesday, October 9 at 11:30 a.m. in the campus quad
Thank you all for coming to this special event. This is exactly the kind of day I was hoping for when I mentioned the idea of a tree-planting ceremony at my installation about one month ago. I want to start with some introductions.
Joining me for the ceremonial shoveling of dirt are:
Phil Newbold, chair of the IU South Bend Advisory Board
Raman Adaikkalavan, president of the academic senate
Rodger Pinto, president of the student government association
Karrie Jean, president of the bi-week staff council
Tabitha Kingsbury, treasurer of the professional staff council
Besides Phil, there are other members of the advisory board here. We are meeting right after the ceremony. Will you please wave. Thank you for coming.
I am honored to have a special guest who will begin our ceremony in very meaningful way. Phil suggested to me that a tree planting ceremony would be an appropriate venue to invite a representative from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians to give a blessing. I thought that was a great idea and am grateful that they accepted my invitation.
Jefferson Ballew is a Pokagon Potawatomi tradition bearer. He is a singer, a dancer, and practitioner of Potawatomi culture and heritage. He is here to offer a welcome song and blessing from the original people of the South Bend region.
Jefferson, thank you and please begin.
(BLESSING / SONG)
Thank you. That sets the stage beautifully for our tree planting ceremony.
As I said in my installation speech, in so many ways, trees are the backbone of their communities. They are certainly the most visible! It is easy to focus on the trees that you see before you when you are walking in the woods, but it takes a bit more effort to step back and see the bigger forest, the bigger picture, and all of the interactions that makes up these magnificent communities. A book that
changed the way I think about forests is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohllenben, a German forester. In it, he describes the complex interactions amongst trees in forests that I never knew existed, perhaps because I was so focused on the trees themselves.
I would like to share with you a passage from his book that describes why trees live in interdependent communities because it is how I see the community I am joining and it also serves as a reminder of why communities are so important.
“But why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. Regular fatalities would result in many large gaps in the tree canopy, which would make it easier for storms to get inside the forest and uproot more trees. The heat of summer would reach the forest floor and dry it out. Every tree would suffer.
Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping round for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time, perhaps it will be the other way around, and the supporting tree might be the one in need of assistance.”
I have had the rare opportunity to join a new community in my role as chancellor. This community is a special one, comprised not of trees, microbes, birds and mammals but of scholars, artists, scientists, craftspeople, innovators, professionals, care-givers, movers, shakers, and leaders. And, as we move forward together, I am looking forward to continuing to learn more about everyone and everything, but most of all to ensuring that the community is thriving.
At this time I would like to commemorate our community with the planting of these three Winter King Hawthorne trees near the existing one in their community.
(SHOVEL DIRT ONTO THE FIRST TREE)
(INVITATION TO OTHERS TO SHOVEL DIRT)
(INVITATION TO REFRESHMENTS)