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Greenfield Community College

GCC plants tree in honor of Nelson Mandela

Faculty and staff of Greenfield Community College plant an ironwood tree, also known hornbeam tree, near the greenhouse on Tuesday, in honor of both Earth Day and Nelson Mandela.
Recorder/Micky Bedell

Faculty and staff of Greenfield Community College plant an ironwood tree, also known hornbeam tree, near the greenhouse on Tuesday, in honor of both Earth Day and Nelson Mandela. Recorder/Micky Bedell

GREENFIELD — To remember the late Nelson Mandela’s belief that all life is divine, a group of 25 planted a tree in his honor outside Greenfield Community College as part of an Earth Day ceremony Tuesday.

Mandela — the late South African president, activist and peacemaker — believed in a philosophy known as “ubuntu,” which led him to forgive the apartheid regime that threw him into prison in the 1960s, said GCC professor Abbie Jenks.

“(Ubuntu) means that our highest priority must be to nurture all forms of life that lead to a fulfilling, compassionate and sustainable Earth,” said Jenks. “On this 44th Earth Day, may we all embody the spirit of ubuntu and, like Mandela, spend our time caring for and improving all life.”

Professor Trevor Kearns said that while Earth Day today is often an excuse for elementary school-aged children to pick up trash along the side of the road, it began in 1970 as a day of profound activism.

“(It was) the birth of an environmental movement that has changed our lives today and needs our support more than ever,” he said.

At the short Earth Day ceremony, which the college has held for the past few years, professors read Gary Snyder poetry and a 1970 speech by environmental activist Dennis Hayes.

Then, Greenhouse and Laboratory Technician Anthony Reiber led the group in planting a hornbeam tree, which he said will grow slowly until it’s about 25 feet tall. The tree was planted to the south of the college near the greenhouse.

“It’s going to be very happy in this location,” he said.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264 or @RecorderShores

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