In July, 150 people from more than 20 countries stood in a circle and planted three trees in the "death zone": the space between the two walls that once divided Germany. Youth from Croatia and Serbia dug alongside a peace delegation from Bosnia. A Palestinian teenager broke ground with a South African Jew – a Dutch prisoner of World War II planted with a German politician. The ceremony, organized by the Earthstewards Network, symbolized a renewal of life and cooperation where death and injustice had prevailed.
Besides bringing people together, planting those first trees represented a renewal of another sort. Local politicans had planned to build a major Autobahn around Berlin. Peace and environmental groups came together to claim the 120-foot wide strip of land as a green belt instead. After two years of discussion and planning, the greenway was tentatively approved. The ceremony brought together prominent political figures from former East and West Germany, who stood together in a show of support.
Next fall, Earthstewards plans to build on more than eight years of work combatting environmental and human injustice by planting "PeaceTrees" in Berlin. Youth from all over the world will gather in Berlin for a three-week program of planting trees, bushes, and flowers indigenous to the area. They’ll build bikepaths and playgrounds, too, using materials donated by local businesses and others. German youth groups from both sides of the city will maintain the space together after the international group leaves.
To contact PeaceTrees Berlin, or for information about similar projects, write: Earthstewards Network, PO Box 10697, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org