Q&A with Tre Arrow on His One-Year Anniversary
A year ago (June 8, 2009) Tre Arrow greeted a small group of well-wishers at PDX's Arrival terminal, climbed onto a tandem bicycle and merged into a sunny Portland afternoon. He wasn't home free, but--after two years as a fugitive and five and a half years of incarceration--he was home.
If you had been at Arrivals that day, you may not have recognized the biblically long-haired man with the slightly stern blue eyes. After all, it's been eight years. You may not have remembered the trebly voice that is somewhat out-of-sync with his more baritone-ish musculature--or even the tightly wound laugh that sometimes goes on just a bit long.
You may not have recognized Tre, until you looked down. Tre was characteristically bare foot. It's this podiatrical peculiarity that is Tre's most attributable feature.
May 8, 2010, I arrive late in the morning to Tyron Life Community Farm (TLC) in SW Portland to interview Tre. I actually passed him on the way in. Me in my car and Tre on his mountain bike pulling a kids trailer that he uses to carry food. The hand-me-down condition of his bike and trailer reveals a kind of financial vulnerability.
I wait for him at a turn-out that TLC shares with Tryon Creek State Park. He's affectionate. He's sweating from the ride but hugs me openly. And, yes, he does ride barefoot. Not only that, but his bike pedals have round cleats. I'm reminded of an anhedonistic Sadhu holy man.
T[re]: "I think that the government has certainly tried to label me with big T word. And so has the media with all of its misinformation and sensationalism, in order to sell newspapers.
"There's a whole section of people that regard me as a criminal--that's a big word--and there's a lot of people that regard me as a political prisoner . . . or former political prisoner. And certainly supported me throughout the entire ordeal and during the time I was on the run and incarcerated. I've been very grateful for all the love and support I've had. From all around the world really. Various people that have written to me while I was incarcerated. People I've never met, really. That really helps. It definitely helped while I was in prison, to stay focused and stay grounded."
G: "I'm wondering how people--your opposition, for lack of a better word--feel knowing that you've spent 6 number of years in prison. How does that play in?"
T[re]: "I don't really know. I haven't been put in that position. I think for some people, especially loggers, they would think, Good, that's what you deserve. I don't think they would have any more respect or sympathy for me. A lot folks that kills trees have the mentality that you should join the military and you murder people in the Middle East for oil so that you can drive your car here in this country. That's what you do. If you love this country, you join the military. And if you do something against this government, then you don't love this country and you deserve to be in prison. A lot folks that kill trees have that mentality."
G: "What's the big thing you would tell people they need to be worried about? Something they should be thinking about that maybe they're not thinking about?"
T[re]: "There's lots and lots of things. It's a lot of the same things I was saying a decade ago while I was on the ledge and that is we must change the way that we consume. We need to put the word "eco" back into the word "economy" and have a truly sustainable, egalitarian, conscientious way that we make money and have goods and services provided.
"One of the major things people can do is stop driving their automobile and eat a plant-based diet and be very conscious about what they put in their mouths and where it came from. Local, organic. Keep in mind that every time we purchase something, we're voting for that good or service. We have an enormous amount of power, simply by what we choose to buy or boycott.
"The system is still supply and demand. The corporations need us to buy their shit, so let's stop buying the shit, the crap, the garbage, that which is destructive, and let's spend our money and invest in things that are truly healthy and sustainable. For our health and the health of the planet."
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