Healing and planting go shovel-in-hand on Nov. 9 in an event that, in arboreal terms, has a deep and wide root ball.
The event west of Mosier will be a three-part debut: Great River Memorial Cemetery on Carroll Road; a growing stand of trees called Remembrance Grove; and for a new, long-term initiative called Trees of the Gorge, a tree planting project with a one-million-tree goal, by Chelan and Noah Harkin of White Salmon, and Chelan’s father, Bill Weiler of Lyle.
The Harkins, who have a son, Amari, 3, found meaning in October’s designation as October Infant Loss and Miscarriage Awareness Month. Chelan was carrying Asa Aziz Harkin on Aug. 28 when she experienced a miscarriage.
Great River, Oregon’s first green cemetery, was founded by Suzanne Wright Baumhackl and Russ Hargrave, and is scheduled to open in 2020.
Anyone may attend on Nov. 9, and families who experienced miscarriage or loss of a child may purchase a tree for the new Remembrance Grove, a place for healing from grief, at Great River. (Those attending should bring shovels and gloves, but some will be provided — see details below.)
“It’s not a grand opening, but it’s debut,” Chelan said. “We’ll gather, Suzanne will talk about the land and the space and what their intention is for it, I’ll talk about the event, share a poem and lead the group in a song and then read the names, or ask those who dedicated the tree to do so.”
Also tying into the event are the future plans for an education center and outdoor school owned by Gorge Ecology Center, founded by biologist and wildlife educator Bill Weiler, formerly known as Gorge Ecology Institute.
Nov. 9 will be a day of celebration as well as solemn remembrance, according to Chelan Harkin.
“There are many parents who have named their child, ask them to read, and then do tree-planting demo so they know what they’re doing and then we’ll go plant,” she said.
Nov. 9 tree planting and remembrance ceremony, 9 a.m. to noon, Mosier; meet in Mosier across from Breanna’s Market on Highway 30.
Volunteers will plant dedication trees and names will be read aloud and Great River co-founder Suzanne Wright Baumhackl and Harkin will speak.
If you cannot attend, make a $15 donation in the name of a loved one, at gofundme.com/f/remembrance-grove-to-honor-miscarriages. Donations also support future plantings at the grove.
Find an extended interview with Chelan Harkin in the Nov. 6 edition or at www.thedalleschronicle.com.