Archangel and Jake Milarch were featured in the May 2015 issue of Psychology Today in an article called “Turning Back Time: Faced with the prospect of loss—in our natural environment, of our legacy of language, and even on our computer screens—diverse preservationists are rebelling against inevitability and saving what we value most deeply.”
What happens when one’s comfortable surroundings become only discomforting reminders of loss?
That’s the question philosopher Glenn Albrecht began confronting a decade ago as he interviewed fellow Australians about changes rendering their local environments suddenly unrecognizable. In some areas, scenic vistas had become dusty, barren, coal-mined pits. In others, sustained drought had left once-arable farmland parched, setting off an eco-chain reaction affecting backyard gardens and birds that would no longer fly and sing overhead. Their disconsolate voices reminded Albrecht of those of indigenous peoples who had been forcibly removed from their native lands. But his interviewees had never left home.
“My family has deep roots with trees,” quips fourth-generation tree farmer Jake Milarch, 33. When his great-grandfather witnessed the felling of large swaths of trees to make way for factories in early 20th-century Michigan, he started replanting trees as part of his business. Today, from the windows of his home outside the tiny town of Copemish, Jake looks out on an expanse filled with so many types of native and imported trees—including sugar maples, ponderosa pine, pintos, beech, and others—that he likens it to a botanical zoo. Through the profusion of trunks and branches, he can see the house once occupied by his great-grandfather and now home to his nonagenarian great uncle, who also made his living planting and maintaining trees.
[pl_blockquote cite=”Jake Milarch in Psychology Today”]Imagine if we planted 50 trees, and then taught our friends and children to plant 50 trees. Imagine what we’d have.[/pl_blockquote]
And yet, Jake says, he sometimes wonders “if I will be the last one left looking at this landscape.”