The Artdog Quote of the Week 

The basic principle of respect for nature, for our fellow living beings, echoes through many wise voices and in many corners of our existence. Observe that all too many infamous murderers start by being cruel to animals. Then consider the words of JesusIf you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large onesBut if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” (Luke 16:10, New Living Translation).

But respect for nature is bigger than any single religion.

Kayashima Train Station

Consider the Kayashima Train Station in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, where they built around a 700-year-old camphor tree, rather than cut it down. Read the story of the station and the saving of the tree here. Responsive government and respect for nature: it’s a thing!

The Kayashima Train Station has coexisted with a huge, ancient camphor tree in Osaka, Japan since 1973.

Johnson County Courthouse

But not everywhere. Consider the situation in Olathe, KS, a city near my home, where a planned courthouse parking lot has already condemned a neighborhood full of 90-125-year-old historic homes, and may also bring down an enormous, 150-year-old Osage Orange tree, which was designated a “Champion Tree” by the Kansas Forest Service.

This 150-year-old Champion Osage Orange tree in Olathe, KS, may yet fall to add a couple more spaces in the planned parking lot for the new Johnson County Courthouse.

I think my fellow Kansans would do well to step back from immediate economic issues, and consider what the respect for nature (or the lack thereof) in our decision-making says about us. I fear even the appearance of a mystical white snake may not be sufficient for Olathe officials. Yes, we need a new courthouse, and yes, parking is at a premium in downtown Olathe. But surely a balance could be struck?

Surely? Please?

A Happy Epilogue from 2021

I’m delighted to report that the City of Olathe, KS exceeded my expectations. According to a report from the Johnson County Government published in 2021, the tree has since lost its Champion status to a tree in Emporia, Kansas, but it was spared from the parking lot project. Here’s how the County’s report explained it:
“The Olathe tree was spared four years ago in development of the construction site for the new courthouse and incorporated into the project’s northern parking lot. The age of the Osage orange tree at the new courthouse remains only an estimate. It’s believed the tree was a sapling when Johnson County was a toddler.
“’We think it’s been around as long as Olathe and Johnson County have been around,’ Patton said with a smile. Olathe was founded in 1857. The county was created two years before the city.”
So, respect for nature prevailed in Olathe, after all. Read the whole story here.
(Update from Jan S. Gephardt).


Many thanks to Sustainable Human, via Green Heart at Work, for the Albert Schweitzer quote image; to Colossal, for the photo of the camphor tree in Kayashima Station (other photos in the article are attributed to Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei or Studio Ohana, but this one was uncredited); and to The Kansas City Star, for the photo of the Champion Osage Orange in Olathe, KS (they list the photo as “provided,” but not by whom).