Recovering Addicts Plant a Forest of Regeneration

From kicking our oil dependence to building an ocean recovery alliance, it's common to borrow metaphors from the world of addiction when it comes to discussing the environmental challenges we face, and how to fix them. But sometimes the connection is literal. In fact, one group is planting an entire forest to celebrate each individual recovery from addiction—one tree, and one addict, at a time. The idea for the Phoenix Forest comes from the Phoenix Futures network of drug and alcohol treatment providers. The group has already planted 700 trees—one for every service user who successfully completed one of its drug recovery programs last year. And the plan is to do the same next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Eventually there will be a whole forest, and each individual tree will stand for one life that has been turned around from addiction.

Symbolism Becomes Therapy
Debbi Andalo of the Guardian describes how service users themselves are getting involved in the tree planting at Phoenix Forest, providing both a symbolic tribute to their recovery efforts, but also creating a living, breathing space that will provide therapy to others setting out on their own journeys:

"Jaime Kinsella, aged 33, who has been a drug user for 20 years and is about to complete her recovery programme with Phoenix, planted a young willow on the site. "It is truly inspirational. A tree is so symbolic. This is a really special day and it is a place I will return to with my children in the future," she says. The forest will also become a base for the conservation therapy services the charity runs for service users. According to its statistics, 53% of drug users who do conservation therapy go on to complete recovery."

Nature Is Good For Us. Let's Return the Favor.
We already know that trees make neighborhoods safer, and going outside makes us feel more alive, so making the connection between human transformation and natural regeneration is only logical if we're to meet the social and environmental challenges we all face.