Like a Tree: How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet (Ecofeminism, Environmental Activism)

Like a Tree: How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet (Ecofeminism, Environmental Activism)

by Jean Shinoda Bolen


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A Powerful and Poetic Call to Ecofeminism & Environmental Activism

“In this book Jean Bolen expresses the essence of our deep connection to and inseparability from trees.” —Alice Walker

Winner 2020 Indie Book Award for Nature/Environment
#1 New Release in Forestry, Forests & Rainforests

This masterful work by internationally known author and speaker Jean Shinoda Bolen provides an insightful look into the fusion of ecological issues and global gender politics.

Of trees and women. This book on the importance of trees grew out of Bolen’s experience mourning the loss of a Monterey pine that was cut down in her neighborhood. That, combined with her practice of walking among tall trees, led to her deep connection with trees and an understanding of their many complexities. From their anatomy and physiology, to trees as archetypal and sacred symbols, Bolen expertly explores the dynamics of ecological activism spiritual activism and sacred feminism. And, she invites us to join the movement to save trees.

Stories of those making a difference. While there is still much work to be done to address environmental problems, there are many stories of individuals and organizations rising up to make a change and help save our planet. The words and stories that Bolen weaves throughout this book are both inspirational and down-to-earth, calling us to realize what is happening to not only our trees, but our people. By writing about both the work of organizations like Greenpeace and the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Bolen highlights her passions and shares her unique vision for the world.

In Like a Tree learn more about:

  • The dynamic nature of trees―from their anatomy to their role as an archetypal symbol
  • Pressing social issues such as deforestation, global warming, and overpopulation
  • What it means to be a “tree person”

If you enjoyed books like The Hidden Life of Trees, Wise Trees, Around the World in 80 Trees, or Braiding Sweetgrass, then you’ll love Like a Tree: How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781642504064
Publisher: Mango Media
Publication date: 02/16/2021
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 574,301
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jean Shinoda Bolen, M. D., is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, former professor of psychiatry, and an internationally known author and speaker. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a recipient of the Institute for Health and Healing's Pioneers in Art, Science, and the Soul of Healing Award.

The Association for the Study of Women and Mythology presented her the Demeter Award for her lifetime achievement in women's spirituality.

Dr. Bolen has authored over ten books with over a hundred foreign editions. Her book The Millionth Circle inspired The Millionth Circle Initiative ( and led to her involvement at the UN.

She currently maintains a private practice in Mill Valley, California.

Read an Excerpt

The Tree Sitter and the Passerby

On Vancouver Island, in June 2010, Hilary Huntley, a young Canadian artist, suddenly became a tree activist when she learned that three majestic Garry oaks (Quercus garryana) were to be cut down for a sports field and took immediate personal action. She climbed into one of them, determined to thwart the tree cutters, and became the center of a spontaneous community effort to save them. A day after Hilary climbed into her perch, Clare Peterson was taking a morning walk on a trail nearby when she heard a loud voice calling “Hello!” Clare looked around, didn't see anyone, but responded with a hello right back. The voice said, “Over here!” which took her to the foot of the giant Garry oak and to Hilary, who said, “Did you know that they are planning to cut down this tree on Tuesday morning? They will have to take me with it. I'm staying right here and am not moving.”

Clare told me that as she walked away, she asked herself, “Why would I get involved? What could I do?” And as she wondered, “What would I sit up in a tree for?” she suddenly heard herself say, “I must support any woman who will sit in a tree for what she believes.” Energized now, she tapped into her organizing abilities, and networks that were already in place went into action. A tree vigil formed. Everyone did her bit, from phoning powers that be and the baseball clubs, to bombarding city council members with emails and phone calls, to alerting local media that covered the story. A ten-year-old girl was told by her mother to skip school to be with the tree people and learn something. Four days later, the trees were saved. Hilary stayed in the tree until the mayor called her on her cell phone saying the trees would be preserved. “Great!” she said. “Once I have it in writing, I will get down.” The official document was delivered within an hour. And, since a phone tree had been organized, “The trees are saved!” went out all over the valley, very quickly.

After it was over and Hilary came down from the tree, Clare, who is a Millionth Circle convener who with Anne Caldwell and others organized Gather the Women–Canada, wrote, “One of the most valuable things I saw was that everyone who gets involved and is present to the actual event notices how each person holds a piece of the solution. Passion brings people out and that passion ensures that each particular skill contributes to the resolution . . . rather like Circle Principles!”

Once the people in the town of Duncan became informed about plans to cut down these Garry oaks—which they did because of Hilary, Clare, and many others—people who learned and cared about saving the trees swung into action; this was an intergenerational effort. As a consequence, there is more community awareness about trees with the hope of a tree-preservation bylaw becoming adopted. In Canada, Garry oaks grow only in southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, with some isolated trees elsewhere. The Garry oak was named by botanist and explorer David Douglas for Nicholas Garry of the Hudson's Bay Company, who helped him during his travels.

Tree preservation consciousness is needed to save trees, especially when new owners purchase property with the intent to clear and build, with no regard for the old and beautiful trees that are there. Soon after I heard from Clare, for example, I learned from Patricia Damery, a Jungian analyst in Napa Valley, California, that new owners might clear a hilltop area with a ring of huge valley oaks in a large circle and other landmarks to plant vineyards. This land has been used for rituals and is sacred space for her and quite possibly was used as such when indigenous tribes lived there. The challenge is to approach owners in the same spirit as did the tree people in Canada, without rage or blame, and mobilize the concern of the community for its special trees, possibly with the added American incentive that if land and trees such as these are donated to a land trust, there can be tax benefits. Intergenerational activism may be required to protect the trees while agreements to save them can be worked out. Tree sitting and consequent media attention are done by young adult activists who are aware that once trees are cut down, the conversation is over, while mature, established citizen-taxpayer tree people are the ones that have political influence, especially locally, which is where tree issues are settled.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Preface xix

Introduction xxi

1 Standing Like a Tree 1

2 Giving Like a Tree 29

3 Surviving Like a Tree 57

4 Sacred Like a Tree 89

5 Symbolic Like a Tree 121

6 Soulful Like a Tree 151

7 Wise Like a Tree: Tree People 177

Discussion/Reflection Questions 210

Resources 213

Index 223

Acknowledgments 233

About the Author 235

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“In Like a Tree, Jean Bolen lovingly and simply explains to the reader why trees are our essential partners in life on Mother Earth. The book helps to unravel and integrate some of the scientific facts and spiritual values which have nurtured the development of plentiful ecosystems on our planet for many thousands of years. She also underscores the importance of today's children (especially girls) and future generations in reversing this trend, which I agree is absolutely essential.”

—Donna Goodman, founder and president of Earth Child Institute

“In this book Jean Bolen expresses the essence of our deep connection to and inseparability from trees. Trees have stood by us humans always; it is the least we can do to protect and save and honour them now. Bolen's thoughts and suggestions for moving forward will, as always, help us see and feel how this might be done. This is a conversation with the Tree tribe not to be missed or dismissed.”

—Alice Walker

Like a Tree is a terrific book. It's not only a very readable compendium of facts about various kinds of trees, but a treasury of wisdom about why we love them, how we love them, and how this love is part and parcel of life on earth. While alerting us to the pending disaster of climate change and other collective mistakes we have made through moving personal testimony, this book also gives us a good starting point for change.”

—Susan Griffin, author of Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her

“Once again, Bolen inspires us with her wisdom, passion, and activism. Like a Tree is an invitation for all to see our interconnectedness and our oneness. It is simply brilliant!”

—Zainab Salbi, author of Between Two Worlds and founder of Women for Women International

“Jean Shinoda Bolen ... has come out with a most igniting, inspiring, and compassionate book that is bound to motivate thousands upon thousands of people into action in regards to the dire plight of girls, women, and trees in the world today.”

—Jerry Jampolsky, MD, founder, Attitudinal Healing, and Diane Cirincione, PhD, executive director, Attitudinal Healing International

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