After tragedy, the birth of Healing Trees demonstrates leadership by example

Back on January 9th, I shared a story about how we all got a wakeup call when shots rang out on a sunny Saturday morning in Tucson, Arizona.  After that day, as a nation wondered, waited and prayed, a group of friends were sharing ideas on what could be done to remember the fallen, bring the community together and begin the healing process.  The result is a new collaborative project called The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program. 

News coverage and  video where ABC15 news reporter Angie Holdsworth tells the story in this interview with Annie Loyd.


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;


I think I was about Christina Taylor Green’s age when I first read “TREES” by Joyce Kilmer.  Like trees, people gain their strength from the world around them.  They hug the earth, draw nutrients from it, and reach for the sun.  They often stand together, but they can also stand alone.  They put down roots, grow, and give back in many ways.  There is something both magical and mystical about a tree.

A tree that looks at God all day  

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear  

A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer at Bartleby Online

Healing Trees Humanitarian Program: “Heal Our Communities, Offer Remembrance and Celebrate Life.”

ContributeLess than one month later after the Tucson shootings, the project has launched and is growing daily. Beginning on February 14th, Arizona Statehood Day, The Healing Trees Humanitarian Project will plant trees in Tucson and Phoenix and many additional locations throughout Arizona, the US and around the world. In the process they will be bringing communities together and demonstrating a shared desire to be to be instruments of peace, understanding and compassion in our communities. (You can see the growing list of locations at

Each time a healing tree is planted there is a ceremony to…

  • offer a remembrance to those who died or were injured in Tucson.
  • create a lasting symbol of new life in our community
  • Create a unified moment for each of us to reflect on how we will choose to be instruments of peace, compassion and understanding with ourselves and with others

Participants come back together again 11 months later to hold themselves accountable and to reflect on how they acted as instruments of peace and will continue to do so.

Recording the Tree Plantings

In addition to the individual trees and the gatherings when they are planted, the GPS coordinates of each tree will be recorded and tracked on the Healing Trees website and will include each Healing Tree’s story, its donors’ experience, intentions and  ceremonies.  This allows the participants and others to visit whenever a boost of inspiration is needed and will provide stories of what we and others are doing to create deep and lasting roots.

It started on January 8, 2011, but it does not end there…

Annie Loyd of The FUSION Foundation put it like this:

“As a direct response to the incidents of January 8, the Healing Trees Humanitarian Program: “Heal Our Communities, Offer Remembrance and Celebrate Life.” was created. The FUSION Foundation, the Arizona Community Tree Council and Tucson Clean and Beautiful are working together to heal our communities, offer remembrance, and celebrate life with the planting of Healing Trees across the state and across the country.  Healing Trees are a visual life-giving memorial commemorating the lives of those who died, honoring those who were injured and paying tribute to the outstanding actions of forgiveness, compassion, understanding, kindness and love we witnessed in the wake of the tragedy by so many in the Tucson community. This is our time to do something significant to celebrate life and promote new growth- like planting trees. Through this a life-giving and earth-serving community act, together we can make a difference.”

Leading by Example

On January 27, 2011, I shared the stories of big companies and caring individuals who are leading by example.  The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program is yet another one.  It was born out of tragedy and a shared desire to respond with an act that would not only honor those who died or were injured but also to provide a visual support to their families, neighbors, friends and strangers whose lives changed on that fateful day. It is the work of people coming together to  proactively create a stronger community that is committed  life, growth and collaboration.

We each have  opportunities to lead by example.

Sometimes we create them and sometimes they find us.  We lead by example when we…

  • Share our talents and experience with others to solve a problem or move a project forward.
  • Help someone else achieve their goal.
  • Take action to bring change…instead of just talking about what’s wrong.
  • Or maybe simply take this opportunity to become part of a community of caring people who will each plant a healing tree somewhere in the world.  To learn more about how to participate, click here.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits as well as to community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.  Her past career includes two decades on the team at  Avnet, Inc. and service as Chairman of the Board of Advisors to Parenting Arizona.  Today, she serves her community as the Chairman of the Board of the Opportunity  through  Entrepreneurship Foundation and as an advisor to The FUSION Foundation and The Healing Trees Humanitarian Project.  To learn more about how CorePurpose and the CoreAlliance can help you grow your business in 2011, you can contact her by clicking here.

CorePurpose  is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.  CoreAlliance is a  service mark of CorePurpose Inc.  All rights reserved


To learn more about The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program:

The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program is a collaboration led by The FUSION Foundation and founding partner the Arizona Community Tree Council and its southern Arizona partner Trees for Tucson | Tucson Clean and Beautiful.

The funds are being managed by the Arizona Community Tree Council, a 501(c)(3) organization with more than 20 years of experience dedicated to the care and planting of trees and promoting the education and exchange of  information about trees and the essential role they play in the well being of all Arizona communities.

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