The Forest That Overwhelms Trump Tower


It always starts with the vulnerability of risking arrest.  The activism is the purest citizenship.  We enter Trump Tower.  We walk through the submachine guns and dogs, the body armor and the golden name of the white supremacist president that hovers in space above the door.

We are only doing what tourists do.  Ta-Nehisi Coates would say that we are walking into The Dream.  Trump Tower’s public area, where we are welcome as long as we show signs of being willing consumers of The Dream, is a 5 story high vertical mall, with gold-plated escalators zig-zagging upwards.  The hanging garden of Trump.  Fake plants on gold pillars!  We walk across the threshold of The Dream carrying the intention to subvert it and replace it with our Earthalujah!

Let’s call The Dream what it is – The Nightmare.  We have here in this building in concentrated form exactly what most Americans have everyday – the complex of responses to state-sanctioned violence on behalf of race and property and profit.  We feel the manufacture of fear, the itching-the-imagined-wound of Trump nation.  As we walk by the silent staring Secret Service we feel the fantastic imagination made by American fear – the conspiracy theories, the deadly tribalism of police, the scandal of alternative love, the remake of everyone everywhere into a monstrous “Other.”

Our destination is on the 5th floor.  There is a legal never-never-land called a “Privately Owned Public Space” or POPS, and the upshot is that in 1979 Trump agreed in exchange for height variances to keep a garden open to the public.  And by the time we get to the glass door of the garden we are ready to shout.  We have such a need to re-establish our own body.  It is real and direct.  We’ve been coming back here a lot since the election, releasing our personal arts in this garden, our songs, outlandish costumes, dancing, lecturing with the lurid statistics of species extinction and climate chaos.

What we have dedicated ourselves to over the long run, meeting three days a week in the Trump garden, is to turn over our personal soil by silently writing our responses to The Nightmare.  We are finding a way to our counter-dream.  We start with a wisdom quote.  One quote recently was from Emma Goldman:  “Love is the molder of destiny.  Love is the defier of laws.”

Then we write together for 45 minutes.  At the end we stand with our writing and recite or shout or sing our words at the 700 foot tall gold-tinted presidential erection.  One veteran activist that we met at Occupy Wall Street called the garden “A Zuccotti Park with walls, the Zuccotti Prison.”  It is like a back alley lifted into the sky, with rotting tables under USA flags.

We find the weeds and the moss in the cracks of the garden’s fake granite and we talk to them in confidential tones.  They are our leaders.  We ask the rebel plants for advice.  Clearly they are activists.  We want to be super-weeds ourselves.  We want to evolve to live to change The Nightmare.  We tell the weeds in the cracks that we know their descendants will flourish in a forest here, that the tower will come down.

We ask the weeds that we be admitted as one of the species in the eco-system they are making as their roots take hold in the seams of The Nightmare.  We promise we can co-exist with life, to wake up from this bad dream having learned that we don’t have to be the apex predator.  We can do this!  With our species, we’ve learned that a strict program of love works best for us.  We know that now!  Please don’t forget us!  Take us along!


Reverend Billy Talen is the founder the Stop Shopping Choir, an activist ministry that routinely interrupts the operations of banks or corporations that the community deems to be racist or damaging to the Earth.

4 thoughts on “The Forest That Overwhelms Trump Tower

  1. I’ve always bee impressed by any life form that could grow in a crack between cement slabs. Took a picture of a palm tree sprouting there. Is there any way you could have gone further into the belly of the beast? I am thinking of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Glad you made it out alive. Love your spirit!

  2. Succinct. Powerful. Mesmerizing. True to the Max. Go to it, people; let’s have more of what we need to hear. Thank you.

  3. The bad dream is the self created nightmare that exists because of the belief in humanity’s cultural myths or story . These stories passed down through the millennia from religious authorities of all nationalities have never seriously been challenged.
    Until these change nothing else will change For our cultural myths inform our ethics , and our ethics create our behaviours .
    Our first cultural myth is that human beings are inherently evil ….if you don’t believe me just go to a catholic christening service !! We were born evil . No wonder humanity can’t get of its knees !!
    The second cultural myth is that some of us are strong and some of us are weak , so to survive you have to be one of the strong .Otherwise known as” survival of the fittest” or “richest “.
    Yet these are fallacies as if they where true we would never save a child from falling or someone from drowning or running into a burning building .
    Our basic nature is to reflect the essence of who we are which is Oneness ,Love and Fairness .
    Looking at the social implications of this on our society we would naturally create systems that produce equality of opportunity and create systems that would allow society to meet the basic survival needs of every individual , freeing all beings to pursue self-development and self-creation ,rather than self survival unless your one of richest 10 % of society that self reinforces the illusions of our cultural myths. Have you noticed who pulls the strings in our world the richest folks who have the most power .That power comes straight from our thoughts about how life should be. Straight from our cultural stories which are false !!! The thought that competition is natural .This is why the winners think they win by self selecting and keeping the status quo .Hiding great wealth and owning land and property .Greed is a disease of fear. Transparency which is another word for truth is never allowed in the economic system of those that created the system .
    Self survival is not an issue in enlightened societies ,these societies would never allow one of its members to suffer if there were enough for all . In these societies self-interest and mutual best or highest interest are identical.
    No society created around a myth of inherent evilness or survival of the fittest could possibly achieve such understanding.
    So can humanity create a New Cultural Myth or Story that is the biggest question. If we do not nothing will change .
    “The fit are not fit until the all are fit”.

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