Living in a tree, God forbid!

I just read this article about a man living in a rudimentary treehouse, consisting of a platform covered by a tarp. The title of the piece is “Homeless man’s tree house to be torn down,” which raises a question. If he was living in a treehouse, was he really homeless?

This happened in New York State in July, so while it may not have been a viable place to live during the winter, at least he had a dry, peaceful, quiet place to call home during the seasonable months of the year. The point became moot, however, once the city got involved.

Two children discovered the shelter and eventually giving into a mixture of curiosity and bravado, ventured to climb up to it, at which point the resident told them to leave. The police responded by ordering the man out. He said he would pack up in the morning.

He fell out of the tree in the night and was treated in hospital. He asked for two weeks to recover from a broken shoulder and bone in his back so that he could pack up.

Authorities found it so urgent to have this man’s shelter removed that they didn’t even wait for him to recover from his injuries to move out on his own power. Sending a clean up crew in with wheelbarrows, his home was dismantled and his property, which the report referred to as “debris”, was thrown out, leaving him homeless.

This article is a good reminder of just how political something as innocent as a treehouse can be. (Link to the Vancouver pirate ship article blog post). The sense of freedom, harmony, and self-sufficiency that a treehouse evokes contradicts the ethos of governments as we know them today.

To some minds, there is something almost threatening about the presence of trees and the graceful, peaceful independence they communicate. Perhaps if those city officials spent more time perched in their arms they wouldn’t get their backs up so much about someone calling one of those wonderful canopies home, instead of the concrete city streets.