For the love of trees: arboretums, activism and the reverence of creation

For the love of trees: arboretums, activism and the reverence of creation

George from A World Heritage Site in our Backyard: preserving and profiting from the history, culture, and ecology of the Lower Falls Gorge

George Payne  graduated from the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and is a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College and Niagara County Community College.


Trash Day in Brighton, first snowfall, October 27th, 2016 8:16 a.m. [Photo: David Kramer]

In 2014 George founded Gandhi Earth Keepers International, an online social justice network for activists devoted to environmentalism.

Today, George fuses three themes of his life.

And what better day than the morning of the first snowfall.

Arboretums, Activism and the Reverence of Creation

(Photography by George Payne with links to related articles by George and others)

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.


from Design & Democracy: A Photographic Gallery of Regional Works by Frederick Law Olmsted

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.


Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”

Maya Angelou



Exchange Street, Rochester, NY


 The Spirit of Corn Hill Lives: Photographing Rochester’s Most Historically Diverse Neighborhood


Genesee Valley Park


 The difference between softball and kick ball: Shotgunning

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


George Payne at Rattlesnake Point


  Turning Point Park: an ecological jewel looks to the future


King’s Landing in Rochester, NY


 Touring Hawkeye: An Inside Look at Kodak’s Most Enigmatic Landmark


Mt. Hope Cemetery


 “Alone in the Dawn” Restorationist James Caffrey joins the conversation with more on Adelaide Crapsey


Gandhi Earth Keepers International Art Build


 Crisscrossing Rochester with Art Force 5




Watkins Glen Race Track


Abandoned farm in Adams, NY


 Abandoned Farm: A Gallery of Photographs by George Payne


Mt. Hope Cemetery


 In Mount Hope Cemetery remembering the tragic vision of Adelaide Crapsey


Crescent Trail in Penfield, NY


George Payne with Frances Moore Lappe


 Scenes from the 2016 World on Your Plate Conference with a Food Justice Icon


Serenity Garden in Canandaigua, NY


Can Philosophy be Taught Online? One Professor’s Stance and Stand


People who knew how to take care of the trees


Living the Native American way of being at Haudenosaunee Days at the RMSC


Exchange Street


Exchange Street


Genesee Valley Park


 Design & Democracy: A Photographic Gallery of Regional Works by Frederick Law Olmsted


Highland Park


 On the Memorial Day Parade and The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam



“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
John Muir


Trees help fight climate change. Through the natural process of photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 and other pollutant particulates, then store the carbon and emit pure oxygen.


Learning for the Long Haul: The Campus Sustainability Movement Grows


Mt. Hope Cemetery


 In Memorium: In search of Talker at the Grand Light Torch Tour


Seneca Park


Founded in January 2016, the Lower Falls Foundation is a social purpose enterprise in Rochester, New York, dedicated to revitalizing the Lower Falls Gorge. Check it out at


Litter cleanup at Maplewood Park and Lower Falls Park


 A World Heritage Site in our Backyard: preserving and profiting from the history, culture, and ecology of the Lower Falls Gorge

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam



Turning Point Park

Turning Point Park: an ecological jewel looks to the future


Mt. Hope Cemetery


 On Spanish-American War monuments in Rochester. And remembering the Buffalo Soldiers on Veteran’s Day 


Seth Green Trail on the East Side of the Genesee River


National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, NY


Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge: One of the best kept secrets of Western New York


Charlotte, NY


 A Rochester that I Know

“Look: the trees exist; the houses
we dwell in stand there stalwartly.
Only we
pass by it all, like a rush of air.
And everything conspires to keep quiet
about us,
half out of shame perhaps, half out of
some secret hope.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies


Exchange Street


Downtown Rochester


Genesee Valley Park


Promoting Wellness through softball at the URMC


Thank you card from students at Roberto Clemente School # 8


 45 years ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a team of “All brothers out there”


Genesee Riverway Trail

 Design & Democracy: A Photographic Gallery of Regional Works by Frederick Law Olmsted

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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