On this international day of protest against the Monsanto corporation's production of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and chemical farming products, activists gathered in front of Chicopee (Mass.) City Hall to voice their opposition to Monsanto.
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Across the street from the event stand the Cabotville Sycamores (one shown here, big white trunk). During their close to 200 year tenure, they have seen a canal dug, a rail line laid, a city developed and industrial factories built. Swords for Lincoln's troops, doors for the Capital in Washington, D.C. and Spaulding basketballs have all been made here in the Ames complex, the brick of which you can glimpse through the trees.
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Thinking about all that these trees have seen, from making swords to protesting GMOs, I felt kinship with my writer and photographer friend Benjamin Swett and his book: New York City of Trees. Swett writes in the introduction:
"Just as trees remove carbon from the atmosphere and hold it for many years in their woody tissue, so do they sequester the shared experiences of the people who live alongside them. The growth rings of trees contain, in organized fashion, physical manifestations of the world and of the human presence in it at different times in a tree’s history."
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Several families came to protest. Here, Kayden Beaulieu holds a Caique Parrot (the pet of another protestor) as her grandmother Nina Renshaw looks on. Later, young Kayden walked to her car chanting, "Hey Hey Ho Ho, GMOs Have Got to Go", evidence that she had done some sequestering of her own during the event.
The group was mixed, likely brought together by a Facebook event. While the Massachusetts legislature is contemplating passing a GMO labeling law, one protestor's sign read: "Don't label GMOs. Ban Them!"
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A plaque near the Cabotville Sycamores states, "The sycamores have survived hurricanes, floods, an industrial revolution and the onslaught of modern urbanization." The protestors prod us to wonder if the venerable trees can survive the environmental impact of modern farming methods.