The city of Melbourne, Australia tried something new in 2013—they gave all of their trees a number….and an email address. The thought was that citizens could email the city about a problem tree–maybe a broken branch, or a dying tree–so that the town could identify it easily and take care of the problem.
But something wonderful happened. Not only did people email the trees about issues, they sent them wonderful messages like:
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.
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?
The city usually responded to these emails as well…from the tree’s perspective. It turns out that people care about their surroundings more than we probably imagined. What a creative way to take care of municipal issues as well!
This isn’t a completely original idea, either. In Chicago, you can send the city texts about potholes, and in Hawaii, you can adopt a tsunami siren. It’s a wonderful way to connect people with their cities, and allow for better service from the city responders.
Maybe we should start an email program for our library book drop?