From left to right: Joanie Chambers, Debbie Field, Jim Paris, Steve Erickson, Yuki Taylor, and Boone Olson all pose for a photo behind the planted ginkgo tree. (Photo provided by Akiyo Riggs)

Hiroshima peace tree planted at UCC

Editor’s note: Mainstream Design Editor Boone Olson participated in the planting of the ginkgo seedling on February 28. 

A flash of light, a deafening boom, and a colossal mushroom cloud. These are the hallmarks of an atomic bomb, heralding the arrival of a device with massive destructive power. For Japan, the coming of the 75th anniversary of the “Little Boy” nuclear bomb being dropped on Hiroshima is a time to reconnect and heal, not only within the country but through outreach programs around the world as well. One of the many ways Japan has marked the event is through tree planting, a practice based on the Hiroshima trees that withstood the immense 13 kiloton blast, equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT.

Today, seedlings are collected from these trees by the many volunteers of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative are the basis for the Hiroshima peace tree planting movement.

According to their website, the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative is a “global volunteer campaign, aiming to disseminate the universal message of trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.” 

Bombing survivor Hideko Tamura-Snider, who lost her mother in the bombing when she was only 10 years old, is the head of the Medford, Oregon based One Sunny Day Initiative, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the consequences of nuclear weapons. Tamura-Snider reached out to Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative and handed over gingko and asian persimmon seeds from the Hiroshima site to Oregon Community Trees, a volunteer coalition of arborists, urban planners, community activists, foresters and nurserymen in 2017, who sprouted the seedlings. The seedlings were then placed under the care of the Oregon Department of Forestry, who are now in charge of distributing the trees to waiting communities around Oregon. 

These “peace trees” to be planted in 2020 will not only commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing, but will also represent the resilience of life after disaster and the dangers of nuclear warfare.

UCC was contacted by Roseburg Sister Cities President Thomas McGregor as a possible location for the planting. Kevin Carson, the RSC treasurer and a retired BLM employee, had heard of the call to plant peace trees from previous connections and suggested to the RSC Executive Board that this would be a great idea. RSC and the Japanese city of Kuki had previously worked with UCC to plant a cherry tree by the Ralph Snyder fountain alongside a plaque to commemorate the 10th anniversary in 2003 of the exchange program and the cultural connections of friendship and understanding between the two sister cities. 

After an agreement was reached to plant the gingko seedling on a patch of grass next to the walkway between the UCC library and Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall, the planting took place on February 28. In attendance were Jess Miller and Jim Paris from UCC, RSC secretary Debbie Fields, RSC treasurer Kevin Carson, RSC board members Akiyo Riggs, Steve Erickson, and Joanie Chambers, RSC member Yuki Taylor, and myself, a Japanese student.

After the seedling had been lowered into the earth and the roots comfortably covered, talk sprung up about the upcoming peace ceremony for the tree in April. RSC is slated to meet with UCC’s Chief Advancement Officer Tiffany Coleman to discuss the details of the ceremony on March 6.

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