A whisper from the woods

Why the Global Tree Initiative? January 2022

Jan 23, 2022

An article by Jacie Keeley, the Global Tree Initiative director.

Why the Global Tree Initiative?

Sometimes, I am asked to talk about the Global Tree Initiative (GTI). People want to know why it is different from other tree-planting organizations; what makes the GTI special; what motivates me to dedicate my life to it?

I do not know other groups well enough to be able to speak about them. I would like to say, however, that any organization that works for the welfare of others has my admiration.

What I can do is talk about why I am enthusiastic about the Global Tree Initiative. Yes, it is true. I am enthusiastic about the GTI.

First off, the basis of the GTI is compassion and responsibility. This resonates with me due to some important lessons my mother taught me in childhood.

For example, when I was a little girl, my contribution to the family was to feed the animals. I had to do this job in the morning and the evening. One late afternoon, it was time for them to eat. They had not finished their morning food. This left a dried crust in the bowls. In my youthful hurry, instead of cleaning the bowls or grabbing fresh ones, I just said, “Oh, well,” and plopped more wet food on top of the old bits. I quickly learned that my mother not only had eyes on the back of her head but she was a deep mind reader. Without moving from her stance at the sink where she was washing dishes, she calmly asked me if I had just fed the animals fresh food on top of the old food. I had to confess my crime. At this point, my mother shared with me something so simple but so earthshaking that it was like a lightbulb went off inside me. Her wisdom started to shape the course of my life.

Mommy asked me if I had feelings. This was, “Of course.” Then, she asked me if I would like to eat fresh food on a dirty dish. DUH! For sure not. Finally, she asked if I thought animals had feelings. She explained that, just as I had feelings, so did our kitty and dog and all creatures. In this regard, we were the same. She taught me that I should treat others as I wished to be treated.

On yet another occasion when I was little, I was riding in the back seat of my mother’s car. I had a wrapper that I wanted to go away. Of course, I would not just drop it in the car. The only other alternative in my mind was to throw it out the car window. So, this is what I did. Again, the eyes on the back of my mind reading mommy’s head opened wide. Immediately, she asked me to confirm that I had thrown something out the car window. Once more, I had to confess to my crime.

Then, she asked me if I would throw that same garbage on the floor of my bedroom. Naturally, I replied in the negative. At that point, my mother proceeded to share with me something so simple but so profound that, again, there was like an inner illumination that shaped and enforced the course of my life. Mommy said that I should treat the entire world as I would my bedroom. She elaborated simply that the Whole World was my home. She advised that I should guard and protect it as such.

What my mother had done was arm me with two important motivations: compassion and responsibility… for others and the planet. These became driving forces in my life. This was simple, irrefutable, common sense.

This is why I am enthusiastic about the Global Tree Initiative. The GTI makes simple, irrefutable, common sense to me.

The environmental crisis the world is facing is not the problem. It is the symptom of the problem. The real problem is a lack of compassion and responsibility. As my mother taught, we must protect the planet and its inhabitants. When we act in a manner that has the opposite effect, when we do things that lead to destruction versus protection, this is like how I acted when I was a child. My compassion and my sense of responsibility had to be activated. Until it was, I made decisions based on short-term personal gain. I took missteps due to misunderstanding, self-centered thoughts of only myself, and a lack of respect for both other creatures and the planet. When I was young, it never dawned on me that something as simple as throwing a small wrapper out the window of the car could affect anyone else.

It is becoming increasingly clearer that the only way we will survive the climate crisis and avert the path of a sixth major extinction is by enhancing our concern and working together. The storyline in the 21 century is one of growing interdependence. The effect of climate change does not see man-imposed boundaries. These present circumstances call upon us to transcend political, national, religious, and racial tribalism and to end the ecological Ponzi scheme. The time has come to see ourselves as One Universal Family. Our single actions do matter. If these single actions are done with a sense of concern and responsibility surely we can change the world.

This is why I am enthusiastic about the Global Tree Initiative. The environmental crisis is uniting us. Through the GTI, we are touching and inspiring people to get involved and to make a difference, one person, one seed at a time, from the ground up. Tree planting is the tool, the practical, doable method. To date, people from 51 countries have added their tree planting numbers to the Global Tree Initiative’s One Universal Family map for a total of 720,616 trees planted. These trees have been planted by single people, families, small groups, and larger organizations. All of us working individually but together can make a bigger impact than working separately. This is common sense. This is the Global Tree Initiative.

Another inspiration my mother shared with me was her personal goal. She said she wanted to live her life in such a way that, when she left, the world would be a better place than how she found it.
This is my goal, too.

So, yes, for these reasons (and more) I am enthusiastic about the Global Tree Initiative. What are your reasons?

The Global Tree Initiative vision: Together we can create a conscious, wise, warm-hearted world of peace, where people respect and live in harmony with animals and the environment.



Please share this. Thank you!


  1. Andy Wistreich

    Beautiful, down to earth explanation of why our actions related to mother earth and her children matter. Thank you for your clear wisdom and acknowledgement of your mom, Jacie.

    • Jacie

      Big love to you, Andy. Thanks!

  2. Margaret Bachtler

    Wow, I loved the wisdom in this article. Jacie, you were blessed with a mother who was very wise. She passed that trait onto you. You are an inspiration to me for all the work you do not only the global tree initiative but also having founded Thubten Kunga Ling Buddhist Center and more. Yes, your mom taught you well. You have already left the world a better place, a feat many of us aspire to.

    • Jacie

      Thank you, dear Margaret! We all have that inner wisdom. The trick is to activate it. I see so much wisdom in your fresh devotion and commitment. Thank you!

  3. Jennifer Troyan

    Thank you for sharing this blog. Such beautiful lessons your Mother taught you.
    The reasons you mentioned are the same reasons I am passionate about the Global Tree Initiative as well. I love trees and everyone uniting GLOBALLY for this cause plus, a community filled with beautiful, like-minded people – all doing our best to take care of our shared home.

    • Jacie

      Oh, Jennifer, thank you for sharing! This is wonderful to hear.


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