Viewpoint: Reflections on the Caruso Trees

By Rosanne Mangio
Special to the Palisades News

Adear friend of mine, “Spirit Wind,” a Cherokee medicine woman, taught me the “Medicine Ways.” She taught me that the natural beings, especially the majestic trees on this Earth, are our “Relatives.” That Humanity together with our “Relatives” weave the Fabric of Life.

I wrote to the Caruso people that it was paramount to create a cohesive, balanced project that seamlessly does grace to the existing business district, that by removing the three ficus trees on Sunset they would create a demarcation line dividing one part of the Village from the other.

I said that in my experience, the Grove and the Americana (two Caruso developments) were projects devoid of soul and spirit, that they are carbon copies of what is real. The Palisades Village was home, different and real. It was created by architects and thinkers who knew that simplicity was needed to blend into the neighborhood and environment.

I feel that when the developer removed our two Heritage Ficus trees in front of the Mobil station, the developer spit on what is meaningful to the neighborhood. I felt the sacredness of nature and its living spirit were disregarded.

That saddens me greatly, because this project could have been a jewel. It could have worked in tandem with the natural environment, not against it.

Caruso could have left a “living legacy” in the Palisades that all would have admired, and it would have spoken to the understanding that we are all connected to Mother Earth and her environment. They could have made our Heritage Ficus trees a central point of their project, instead of ripping them down, discarding and disrespecting them.

I saw the video that Kristen Kelly posted on Nextdoor Palisades. I was in shock, watching as a bulldozer ripped at one of the trees.

I went down to the Village and behind the fence to see what had been done. It was very still. Nothing except silence, and what was left of two magnificent “beings,” shattered and ripped apart. I fell to my knees and sobbed. All I could say was that I was so sorry. I went to each one of them and prayed for their forgiveness. These trees were beauty in its highest and purest form, not wanting anything from us, just wanting to give, and this is what we all have done to them.

I feel that Mother Earth is tired of our disrespect, greed and meanness. Humanity is a throwaway society who has learned nothing from past mistakes. If humanity doesn’t wake up soon there will be no more hope for us. We have been given many chances to shift our consciousness, and be in gratitude for the jewel we call Earth, our only home.

Some are awake, but too many are asleep and continue to do evil and despicable things to the Earth and the beautiful creatures that share her with us.

So my soul is broken, and my heart is numb with sadness. I keep on shaking my head, not believing what has just happened—but it did. And for me the Soul and the Spirit of the Palisades is no more.

(Editor’s Note: Rosanne Mangio has lived in Pacific Palisades for more than 60 years. Her father, Vince, originally owned the Palisades Barber Shop on Antioch. Mangio worked for L.A. City Recreation and Parks for 31 years.)

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