Luna is a 1,000 year old redwood tree rising 200 feet high near Stafford in Humboldt County, California. Luna was the home to political activist Julia Butterfly Hill, who occupied the tree’s structure for 738 days between December 10, 1997 and December 18, 1999 to protest Pacific Lumber Company’s planned commodification of the tree. Not coincidentally, earlier clearcutting of the forest—which removed the web of root systems that were stabilizing the topographic region—was attributed to a mudslide on New Years Day of 1997, destroying seven houses in Stafford. Hill’s activism was not just for Luna but rather for the larger region, which directly and indirectly felt the impacts of commodifying nature. In 2000, just a year after an agreement was reached with the lumber company, the tree was attacked with a chainsaw. Biologists and civil engineers came to the rescue, creating a hybrid natural/ artificial bracing system for Luna. With a five meter diameter trunk, Luna was able to persist with these human interventions. Luna deserves a seat at the table as they represent the need for political activism, the fragility and resilience of nature, as well as new hybrid human-natural systems of support and care.
Trees such as Luna are an integral component to the cleansing of air and absorption of atmospheric carbon, yet their critical role often goes unnoticed, making them one of several silent subjects of capitalism. Our seat for Luna includes the separation of Luna from the atmosphere ‘outside’ by an environment bubble. If Banham and Dallegret’s environment bubble liberated architecture from static enclosure and geography yet relied on technology, our seat pulls humans outside of the bubble to consider the true environmental technology of trees. Now, on the outside where increasing pollution levels threaten our health, humans are left to inhale clean air from within the bubble. The separation of atmospheres, which would typically diffuse into each other—acts as a political tool to provide a voice to Luna and other ‘environmental technologies’ of atmosphere.