So when the review by Olivia Judson came out a few weeks ago in the New York Times, one of the main points of contention in the comments section was over my claim (in my online bio) that I have personally planted over one million trees. A number of commentators cried foul (starting at comment #13 and precipitating from there), liberally exercising their cheater-detection instincts by opining that such a thing was impossible and I had clearly blown my credibility by making outlandish claims. The truth is I had indeed made the claim without knowing the exact number of trees I had planted, so yes, it was a rough estimate. All I knew for sure was that I planted for seven full seasons and six partial season and I was pretty fast with a shovel back in the day (my best day was 4400). I knew it was pretty damn close to a million, but what if I had claimed “over a million” and it turned out to be a few thousand shy? The shame would have been unbearable.

So today I went to the head office of Brinkman & Associates Reforestation in New Westminster to sit in on a meeting there, and I asked the head of payroll, a dear old family friend named Kitty Ypma and an excellent accountant and book-keeper, if she would be so kind as to pull my employee files going all the way back to when I planted my first tree at the age of 15 in 1994, and tally up my yearly totals to see whether or not I was full of it. Well, I just got the email from Kitty a few minutes ago confirming that my total trees planted from 1994 – 2010 is precisely 1,046,105, so thankfully I do not owe the New York Times or anyone else a contrite retraction, (though I admit I was holding my breath!)

Speaking of planting, I had been planting with my brother’s crew for the past few weeks, but I left a week ago to fly to New York for my appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show last Friday, and when I returned Erik informed me that there was a truck broken down and he needed to lay someone off until it was fixed, so I volunteered. So I’ve been holed up in Vancouver for the past couple of days working on my Beowulf adaptation for the Edinburgh Fringe and writing video treatments for the Wellcome Trust Rap Guide to Evolution videos, but tomorrow I’m heading back out to camp for another week or so of planting before I fly to the UK for the summer festival circuit.

By the way, at the camp party ten days ago we filmed a music video with Smoky Tiger for our song “The Road Northwest” so look out for that on my youtube channel in a few weeks, directed by Syd Woodward at If you aren’t familiar with Canadian tree-planting sub-culture, check out the video for Smoky Tiger’s anthem “The Tree Planter’s Waltz” which we filmed last year in camp. ‘Til next time, stay vigilant!


Baba Brinkman

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