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Apr 13, 22

Tree-Sit Launched in Ann Arbor to Defend Forest from Luxury Housing Development

Report from Fight Concord Pines, on recent tree-sit that attempted to block the construction of a luxury housing development which would destroy a section of forest.

On Monday morning, a forest defender calling themselves Nuthatch climbed a pine tree on the site of the Concord Pines development at 660 Earhart Rd in Ann Arbor. They intend to live in the tree indefinitely in order to prevent it and other surrounding trees from removal at the hands of the developer. Supporters occupied the forest floor immediately around the tree to show solidarity with Nuthatch and their distaste for luxury housing construction in the midst of a climate and housing crisis. The sit is part of an ongoing campaign of actions beginning in late March, which together have successfully delayed work for at least 24 hours.

From Nuthatch:

I’m up here because if we could vote our way out of our current climate disaster, we would have done so long ago. While much of this work can feel good– building places and groups where we support and uplift each other, for example– much of it involves facing violence from workers, police, and others. If you don’t read the news, then a quick Google search will show you the kind of police repression that countless other people have faced when fighting systems of power: from Indigenous groups fighting against pipelines across Turtle Island, to Black liberation groups fighting for justice during the George Floyd uprisings, to the four IPCC scientists just a few days ago begging the world to listen as they chained themselves to the door of a Chase Bank. We don’t do this for fun. Certainly, being up here in the canopy and surrounded by the sounds of the forest is a lovely place to be. But please believe me that I wish with all my heart that we could find an easier way besides facing off against police day after day. But we can’t stop. We aren’t just fighting Toll Brothers– we’re fighting the systems that support them, the systems of white supremacy, capitalism, and oppression of all kinds.

Love and rage,

The Concord Pines development is proposed by the nation’s largest luxury homebuilder, the Toll Brothers. The development would create 57 single-family luxury homes on the wooded site just north of Concordia University. The homes will cost over $600,000.

FIGHT Concord Pines, the group responsible for the work stoppages, opposes the creation of new luxury homes in the midst of Washtenaw County’s affordable housing crisis, and particularly objects to the destruction of hundreds of landmark trees – large, old, and/or historical trees– in order to create these homes.

March lockdown action

The land itself was traditionally stewarded by the Wyandot and the Bodéwadmi peoples, many of whom waged immense resistance battles against their forced removal to Kansas and Oklahoma in the 1800s. Despite a record of nearby burial mounds and remains, Toll Brothers have not provided any details on their plans to involve the Bodéwadmi or Wyandot should remains, cultural artifacts, or other significant items be discovered at the site.

This development stands starkly against a background of ongoing local and global crisis. Rising rents and a stagnating wage has caused many workers to be forced to move out of Ann Arbor, often to Ypsilanti where they inadvertently drive up rent prices and displace more people. Those who cannot afford to rent anywhere near where they work are pushed into homelessness, staying at the overcrowded and underfunded Delonis shelter, or camping out of sight.

April 11th tree-sit

The proposed Concord Pines development is an example of the kind of low-density, energy-intensive, cost-prohibitive housing that Ann Arbor can literally no longer afford – not if it wants to leave intact ecosystems and communities for future generations’ health and well-being. City Council has proven their commitment to sustainability is as hollow as their pockets are lined.

There is no time left to stop the climate crisis by appealing to weak-willed government officials. Direct action must be taken to stop the destruction of our planet.

Editor’s Note: The tree-sitter was later violently extracted, but the fight goes on. Follow FIGHT Concord Pines here.

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