Sunday, October 04, 2015

Han Shan Project -- revisited

It was just about two years ago that poets from around the world heard the call sent out by Susan McCaslin, a writer from Fort Langley, B.C.

She'd learned that the Township of Langley had plans to sell off a tract of forest, and that once sold it would be developed for 'estate' housing. Because Susan knew how valuable this forest was -- how important it would be as greenspace for future generations -- she set about organizing the Han Shan Project.

Poets from as far away as Australia submitted poems. Susan and her husband printed out the poems, put them into plastic sleeves and suspended them from trees throughout the forest.

Soon the project received national press (thanks in large part to the involvement of artist Robert Bateman) and hurrah, the forest was saved. Then, even more miraculously, Langley's Blaauw family stepped forward to purchase a second tract of the forest, ensuring a sustainable number of trees would endure. The bench in the picture above shows a bench dedicated to the memory of Thomas Blaauw, whose estate funded the purchase.

Trinity Western University, now charged with caretaking the forest, has sponsored a symposium -- some of which has reported on confirmation of endangered species discovered in the forest. To celebrate, they have remounted the Han Shan Project, again hanging poems from the trees.

Just as the first time this decoration-of-the-forest occurred, the feeling created is magical.

The poems will be on display in the forest until early December.

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