While I was preparing and co-leading an interdisciplinary workshop on the affects of climate change on trees of northern forests in Cloquet, MN major storms were blowing down trees further south in the Twin Cites and knocking out power lines. Workshop participants and leaders were affected by this living example of severe storms as we learned about how climate change increases their frequency and severity.
Upon returning to the Twin Cities, and with all the climate change talk in my mind, I was more aware of how a blown-down tree is not just an accident of weather anymore. It is also a symbol of our self destruction. I captured these impressions in a first draft of an artist's book based on photographs of blown down tree stumps. Here is the text of the draft introductory page of "Blowdown."
Climate change creates the conditions that favor more severe and frequent storms, although no single storm can be directly attributed to climate change. This situation creates a troubling and ambiguous shadow narrative for severe weather events. Blowdown documents the remains of blown down trees from the storm that struck the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, in June of 2013 - damaging landscapes and causing widespread power outages. By July, when these photographs were taken, most branches had been hauled away, but stump removal had not yet taken place. Upturned trunks and roots attached to torn fragments of lawns formed a temporary memorial to lost trees and a reminder of the power of severe weather.
Images: In the images, I am trying to evoke my experience of this post-storm landscape. Standing by the toppled trunk of a large tree gives a visceral sensation in my gut of the power of the wind that blew it down. It also leaves a feeling of absence -- a hole in the memory of what my neighborhood street is supposed to look like. And it is laden with a vague sense of accountability - however remote the connection - our lifestyles of consumption, exhaust, and emissions are altering the atmosphere to help create opportunities for this storm that blew down these trees.