Tuesday, November 19, 2019

“Compassion Tree” Planting, San Antonio, Texas

Rev. Ann E. Helmke, Community Faith-Based Liaison, San Antonio Department of Human Services, in the name of the international "Compassion Tree Project," invited all to renew the earth by planting trees. 

The Compassion Tree Project (CTP) starts at a local level as a symbolic representation of the commitment and responsibility to re-green the world. It then expands beyond its own location and moves to support already-existing re-greening efforts around the world. The Compassion Tree Project joins us all together in a single global effort, connecting us all in our common humanity. It mobilizes us to take action to do something about devastated lands and the climate crisis. We will be planting more than bio-diversity (by ensuring the planting of only indigenous trees/plants) - we will also be planting compassion, peacemaking, and economic freedom; thereby restoring our planet’s ecological balance.” https://charterforcompassion.org/the-compassion-tree-project

San Antonio City Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, who was serving as mayor pro tem at a global conference in Monterrey, Mexico, accepted a challenge from that Sister City to plant 40,000 trees in San Antonio. Monterrey has already planted over 30,000 as part of the Compassion Tree Project in the International Charter for Compassion’s effort  https://charterforcompassion.org/the-compassion-tree-project     

As of 2020, the City of San Antonio has a web page about local tree planting activities https://www.sanantonio.gov/ParksAndRec/Want-to-Help/Compassion-Tree-Project  Plant a tree and let them know!

Representatives of the City of San Antonio, the University of the Incarnate Word, and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word united in planting a “Compassion Tree” October, 30, 2019, UIW Peace Day, on the Incarnate Word Campus near the clock tower and in view of the Headwaters, a 53-acre Nature Sanctuary. https://www.headwaters-iw.org/

The planting at UIW was to invite the many active tree planters and new tree planters into the global effort. Rev. Ann E. Helmke, the Community Faith-Based Liaison in the San Antonio Department of Human Services spoke both as a city representative, but more importantly, as a delegate of the international leaders in the Compassion Tree Project. 
The international Charter for Compassion movement has started the “Compassion Tree Project” so that billions of trees can offset global warming.  San Antonio and Monterrey are both  officially recognized as Cities of Compassion.  The Catholic Climate Covenant Movement in light of Pope Francis’ invitation, Laudato Si, to care for creation, has been promoting tree planting. See page 4 of the guide, "We are all connected,"  https://catholicclimatecovenant.org/files/attachment/program/Participant_Program-Final.pdf

Participants included:
Rev. Ann E. Helmke, Community Faith-Based Liaison, SA Department of Human Services; Michael F. Larkin, Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the UIW President for External Relations; Sister Teresa Stanley, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Leadership:  Sister Cindy Stacey, the Headwaters at Incarnate Word; and Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez, the Director of the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability.  Ruben Garza, UIW Grounds Supervisor and his crew care for hundreds of trees and plants. The ceremony was led by Sister Martha Ann Kirk, who with her students, had initiated the Charter for Compassion movement in San Antonio ten years ago.  She is the co-chair of  the San Antonio Catholic Archdiocesan Task force to promote Laudato Si, care of creation.     http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
Read more of San Antonio’s growth in compassion and hopes to be a model for other cities http://saccvi.blogspot.com/2019/07/compassion-lab-about-global-and-local.html     

The Compassion Tree movement invites people to plant native trees and this relates to other ideas of sustainability encouraging the use of foods and plants that grow in your area.  This is a Chinquapin Oak (or Chinkapin Oak, Quercus muehlenbergii) which is a native and its acorns are one of the best sources of food for many types of wildlife. Carolyn Walden, the past president of the Boerne Chapter of the  Native Plant Society of Texas, in the Boerne Star on February 12, 2011, wrote, “Chinquapin oaks produce acorns that are sweet and eaten by wildlife and humans. They are the sweetest of all oak acorns. Ripe acorns can be taken out of the thin, tan to brown shell and eaten. Unripe green acorns will be bitter. Acorn meats can be processed and dried or roasted and used to make bread dough, muffin batter and a coffee substitute. The hardwood of the chinquapin, although not used widely commercially, is valued for woodworking.” https://npsot.org/wp/boerne/publications/native-grown-articles/chinquapin-oak-a-nice-good-looking-shade-tree   
Soon there will be more information on how citizens, groups, schools, and institutions can participate adopting trees and compassionately renewing and re-greening the city. The City of San Antonio Department of Parks and Recreation is helping to promote this. 

See a film of the UIW Compassion Tree planting made by Scott Wild, UIW Communications Arts major. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tgdOUku1rY&t=20s    

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