26 Oct The People's Tree Project: Day 1 – The Joy Trip Project
I never thought it would come to this. After years of railing on and on about the early arrival of the holiday season I suddenly find myself utterly and completely complicit in its delivery! Even though we have yet to celebrate Halloween today I am excited for the prospects of seeking out an evergreen for decorating. But this is no ordinary spruce. The Christmas tree I aim to acquire will stand on the grounds of U.S. Capitol Building as a symbol of peace for the American People.
As an icon of our national heritage the People’s Christmas Tree represents many of our common values. At the Capitol in Washington D.C. this emblem of unity embodies the hopes and dreams of all those who aspire to live in a free and open society. Emblazoned with twinkling lights and decorative ornaments this lofty evergreen celebrates the cultural traditions of people around the world. Not to be restricted to the religious ideology of a single faith it is seen by many as a way to mark the winter solstice, to acknowledge the end of the calendar year or just to recognize the shared fellowship of humanity. Every holiday season the Capitol Christmas Tree is an enduring reminder for each of us to find peace on earth and good will toward all of humanity.
Cut from one of the many national forests across the United States of American each Capitol Christmas Tree is also a tribute and testament to our values of environmental protection. Provided by the public lands, which are the inalienable birthright of all U.S. citizens, the People’s Tree is a precious heirloom that affirms our heritage as stewards of our natural resources. As it makes the long journey from the place where it grew from a seedling to the center of our democracy the Capitol Christmas Tree has the potential to engage the hearts and minds of the American people in the most direct and substantive way possible. This year as it travels from Alaska to the District of Columbia the People’s Tree will pass through cities and towns from one end of the country to the other. And with the help of social media the 2015 Capitol Christmas Tree can also be made to honor the broad diversity of this great nation as well as our connection to our most sacred lands from which we draw our strength as a nation.
The Capitol Christmas Tree has an amazing story to tell. While on its tour of the United States it will shine a spotlight on the culture and social experiences of people across all walks of American life. As school children, college students, small business owners, farmers, healthcare professionals, cops, firefighters, homemakers, office workers and public land managers begin to shift their attention to holiday preparations there are literally millions of compelling narratives that illustrate our collective relationships with each other and the natural environments in which we all live. By sharing a few of these stories via social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Yonder and Parascope it will be possible to demonstrate, in real time, the cultural impact of the People’s Tree on different communities across the country while raising awareness for the importance of wilderness, public land, National Park and National Forest protection.
Working in cooperation with the nonprofit organization Choose Outdoors and the U. S. Forest Service I’m leading a social media initiative to follow the Capitol Christmas Tree on its longest journey ever across America. I aim to tell the story of the People’s Tree from its origins in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska all the way to the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. I intend to engage a broad and diverse audience of social media participants that will share their stories, photographs, video clips and original artwork to demonstrate what the Christmas Tree means to them. With a combination of original reporting as well as spontaneous discoveries of unique stories from the road I’ll to create an infinitely compelling series of online content that will elevate to a national level the conversation on preserving our public lands as a united and engaged populous. I hope you’ll come along on this wonderful Joy Trip!
Capitol Tree Project from James Mills on Vimeo.
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