Maui filmmakers Joe Imhoff and Sara Tekula set out to plant native trees in every state, and now they want to document the project. The husband-and-wife team founded the nonprofit “Plant a Wish” and embarked on a tour of all 50 states on Memorial Day 2010, planting native trees in each state and culminating Nov. 5, 2011, in Hawaii. A caretaker for each tree in each state was identified, and overall Imhoff and Tekula put in more than 1,000 native trees at dozens of community planting events across the country.
From Washington to Wyoming, Texas to Tennessee, the duo learned all things native and shared with others the story of Maui’s battle with alien species and loss of indigenous plants and animals. They also explained efforts to repair and restore the effects of trees on human health and the community’s overall environment. “Along the tour, it all began to make so much sense that every living thing has a purpose and those purposes are all connected. That was really meaningful for me,” Tekula said. Imhoff added: “I learned that the power of belief is very effective when doing good things for the world.” Their project was funded by donors who contributed varying amounts from $1 to $2,500. So far, they’ve raised approximately $20,000 for the project.
“What surprised me the most was how many doors of opportunity opened up for us as our mission evolved,” Imhoff said. He and Tekula got access to expert conservationists, educators and authors interested in tree planting and preservation and how they contribute to a healthy environment. “The biggest surprise I think I experienced was the unfortunate amount of sheer devastation we saw happening at the hands of our fellow human beings,” Tekula said. In some places, Tekula said they saw environmental devastation to mountaintops and toxic waste dumps. They found communities where people didn’t know which plants were native to their area. At the end, the couple collected reams of video and photos that recorded the story of their journey. They would like to share the information in a documentary and need public support to do just that. Go to: http://www.plantawish.org/donate.
Photo by Sean Michael Hower