The Morton Bay Fig Tree gains a family

In an  attempt to challenge conceptions of public and private on University property an occupation of what has been dubbed “The Family Tree” began last night. But let me start from the beginning…
Throughout the school year of 2010-11 a small collective of people began hanging swings throughout Aldrich park to liven up the park and make it less austere. The favorite target of this swing-hanginging venture quickly became the Morton Bay Fig Tree located roughly between the Humanities and the Cross Cultural Center. As interest increased and the swings proliferated those who take care of the park (encouraged, no doubt, by some fun-hating administrators) removed said swings one by one. This battle for fun came to a head when the best swing-hanging branch of the Fig Tree was unnecessarily cut down.
In response to this uncalled-for act of violence a few artists began building a 15 foot Phantom Limb to replace the fallen branch. It was finally installed on Monday May 23rd and looked something like this:

The man standing beneath the Limb is one of those who (apparently) is charged with protecting the Fig from any well-intentioned swings or art pieces. In order to preserve this aesthetic act of love the artists and their friends and allies began an occupation of the Morton Bay Fig. Nevertheless, the Phantom Limb was removed at 7:30 this morning, the dubious explanation being that it was “hurting the tree”. Of course, how a piece of diligently hung sculpture could hurt the tree more than the blatant sawing off of a branch is beyond me.
Some of the Tree’s Family members placed a memorial at the former site of the Phantom Limb:

It seems to be a canvas cloth, intended for use by those who wish to congregate around the base of the tree to study or simply enjoy the peace of the park.
As tuition increases (and may increase rapidly in the near future) the idea that students cannot inhabit and enjoy the campus they pay so much for becomes more and more absurd. If you believe in the right to love/hug/climb/swing on trees then feel free to stop by the Morton Bay Fig, have a conversation, find an interesting bug, and support the idea of public art and public joy. I’ll sign off this post with a poem about the tree from our cohorts at UC Rebel Radio.

It was that they took down a limb
where people used to swing
that made the ghost limb
appear on that tree;
ephemeral but extravagant,
like a ghost or piñata.

The limb will be missed,
but swing they will,
still.

Visit the Family Tree’s Facebook here.

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