The Spirit Tree of Joplin, Missouri

Spirit Tree - Joplin, MO
The Spirit Tree of Joplin, Missouri

The “Spirit Tree,” was one of the many trees in Joplin, Missouri destroyed by a deadly tornado that struck on May 22, 2011. This 40′ tree on 20th Street near the Kansas City Southern Railway tracks was painted with vibrant colors inspired by Native American spirit stick art. It was done by Dolores and Darrel Bilke and members of the Tank, a public art group that has worked on other public murals in the city.

The young woman beneath the tree is my niece, a student and an artist, whose most recent work was featured at the SEK Art Fest 2013 and sponsored by the Joplin Globe.

Last year, I originally posted this image as a 360° panorama. In today’s blog post I’ve taken the same image and manipulated it into what’s known as a “little planet” or “stereographic” projection wherein a equirectangular image (such as my panoramas) is wrapped around itself using the “polar coordinates” filter in Photoshop to create a circular image that seems to wrap the panorama around a planet. Hence the name “little planet”.

You can also achieve the same effect with Gimp if you’re inclined to open source image editing.

Manzanar National Historic Site in 360° Panorama

Within the Manzanar National Historic Site is the Manzanar Cemetery. 71 years ago today Manzanar was the first of ten “relocation centers” built by the War Relocation Authority as ordered by Franklin D. Roosevelt following the attacks at Pearl Harbor. The order resulted in the forced relocation of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were native-born American citizens.  They were deprived of their liberty and property without due process of law.

Over the next three years, 140 prisoners died at Manzanar, most were sent home for burial but 15 were buried there. The six existing sets of remains in Manzanar cemetery are: Three adult males in their early 60’s Matsunosuke Murakami, Minoru Kihara, Shinnojo Fukumoto, and two infants Noriyuki Arasuna, Midori Susan Furuya, and an unnamed stillborn infant in an unmarked grave.

In 1943 internee and Master stonemason for the Los Angeles Catholic diocese Ryozo Kado, along with block 9 residents and members of the Buddhist Young Peoples organization, constructed the Cemetery Memorial obelisk. The inscriptions on the monument were written by Manzanar’s Buddhist minister Rev. Shinjo Nagatomi. The three characters featured in this panorama translate as “soul consoling tower”.