|Photo by Ilene Cutler.|
The Signs of Sustainability Project is a citizen-led initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices. Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural and human resources. Since it began in October 2012, the Signs of Sustainability Project has recognized 24 local individuals and organizations by documenting what they have done. Each year the past recipients of the award are invited to join in the selection process for the next year.
In 1978 a group of people came together to form the Stone Ridge Beautification Committee. Their goal was simply to plant trees and make gardens. Perri Cobb, an arborist and a carver, was one of the members. At 87 years old, Perri Cobb is the last working member carrying on with the project and planting trees. He has planted over 100 trees in Marbletown.
He has a few favorites—the giant oak and the maple tree on Route 213 near Asia Restaurant, and the Shade Master Locusts planted all along Main Street in Stone Ridge. My favorite is the Espaliered Pear Tree that grows up against the North River Architecture building at the intersection of Routes 213 and 209. Perri planted this to share with us the beauty of a perfectly ripe pear hanging so close to your car that you could reach out your window and pluck one as you wait at the light.
Perri keeps a record of all the trees and he visits them often to check on them and care for them. He most recently planted new trees at Marbletown Elementary School for a ceremony that honored him! He often visits classes of elementary school kids, teaching them about carving and about maple syrup harvesting. His ready smile and gentle nature make him a favorite with school children and teachers.
In the beloved classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, we are invited on a journey that shows us what would have become of Bedford Falls if a single good and generous community member were erased from its history. In our town, Main Street would have no majestic Shade Master Locust trees stretching out their limbs to offer us beauty and shade, no giant Oak and Maple or fecund Pear tree gracing the intersection. In October of 2012 Perri Cobb was given a Signs of Sustainability Award for beautifying our town. I share his story to inspire you to share your unique gifts with us—let’s see what takes root!