Educational Purpose & Focus of Trial of Bush Honeysuckle
Integration with the Interpretive Themes of the
Gateway Arch National Park
The rights and responsibilities of citizenship as symbolized by
the Old Courthouse as a crucible of change.
Educating adults and youth about our responsibility for decision-making and management
of historical, cultural, natural resources.
Ecological knowledge is needed to make responsible decisions.
Anticipating results of our actions, e.g. from importing plant species that could become invasive
such as Bush Honeysuckle has.
Integrating sustainability perspectives into decision-making and into information-gathering
that informs our decisions/actions.
The Judicial Process as a vehicle to communicate the many points around the issue
of Bush Honeysuckle having become an invasive plant.
Our roles as citizens in the court system
To provide a venue for dialogue and civic engagement, empowering connections between significant historical events and possible solutions to issues in contemporary society.
The Old Courthouse, in downtown St. Louis, is the site of landmark cases:
· In 1846, Dred Scott, a human being enslaved, sued for his freedom.
· In 1872, Virginia Minor, a woman and a Citizen of the United States, sued for her right to vote.
· In 2018, Dale Dufer, a St. Louisian, sued Bush Honeysuckle for damages to the Biodiversity of native plants.
Some would call each a Lost Cause, but history’s verdict can trump, over time.
And – WHAT? Man Sues Plant?
Today, the Old Courthouse is the site of educational proceedings. On Wednesday, April 4 at 1 p.m., the public is invited to a most unusual one: The Trial of Bush Honeysuckle.
“Bush Honeysuckle is a plant that’s taking over our woods, roadsides, parks and streams,” says Dufer, an artist and woodworker. “This species of honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii, is not native to this region. We brought it here from Asia, for the kinds of reasons many plants have been moved around the planet: because we thought it would be useful here, but especially because it’s pretty.
“People here love their Bush Honeysuckle. It creates an amazing privacy hedge. But it also shades out and crowds out our native bushes and flowering plants. It takes over areas our native birds and insects need to thrive. It outcompetes young trees that should regenerate forests. It’s turning our region into a Honeysuckle Desert. And it’s close to escaping into the Ozarks. Pretty, yes - but totally destructive. And we can do something about it!”
Dufer has been doing something. Since 2014, his project Think About Tables has used the natural structure – and unlimited supply - of Bush Honeysuckle in creative workshops, teaching people how to build unique stick tables. “These tables are conversation-starters,” he says, “they provide a positive opening for dialogue about this problem.”
Now Dufer is bringing the issue to public attention in another way: as Plaintiff in the Trial of Bush Honeysuckle.
Distinguished jurists are participating! The Honorable Anna C. Forder, first woman to adjudicate the St. Louis Circuit Court, is serving as Judge. Heading up the legal teams are Kathleen Henry, Executive Director of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, will Prosecute the case. And Ted Heisel, an environmental lawyer who is former Director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, is willing to lead the Defense.
The public is invited to this free educational event. It includes a post-trail discussion session and opportunity to get Invasive Species and Biodiversity information from local groups.
What Justice is possible in this suit? In a most auspicious setting, points of Responsibility will be heard, about both Person and Plant.
The trial took place in the Rotunda of
The Old Courthouse at the Gateway Arch National Park