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Nancy MacKerrow

Nancy MacKerrow is the founder and head of the Susie Forest program. She pays for ten trees a year that are planted in the Spokane area. Susie Forest was started by Nancy in memory of her daughter Susie Stephens. Susie was world traveler, social activist, avid biker, and impassioned environmentalist. Unfortunately Susie was hit by a bus and killed. In honor of her daughter Nancy began planting trees for her daughter. Since the first tree however she has planted trees for people, organizations and groups who she wishes to recognize. In this way the Susie Forest is growing and will continue to grow. See the website at

Interview by Audrey Gudeman

May 2012

 How can you look at a tree and not see the peace that they have? If you can get people involved in the world around them, you can get them to see peace. Trees are life; they are calming and help us connect with something on a personal level. I want to plant a tree for an Alzheimer’s patient. That way they can help the tree grow and sit with it and find peace while they still have their memories. Then as their memory fades and they become scared they can go and sit with the tree and the feeling of peace with the tree will hopefully remain and help them.

If we could just get people to place a hand on a tree we could maybe remember that people are just people. There was an Iranian couple who were biking around the world planting trees. When they rode through they wanted their tree here to be a Susie tree. We came out and planted the tree and showed that we are all just people. For our two hundredth tree we are planting a tree to connect us more closely with the Spokane tribe. Trees connect people.

            When I think of world peace I see a place in a forest where delegates from countries all over the world can gather together. In the middle of the Susie Forest there would be a conference center. The path through the woods would be wide enough for two people to walk side by side and no one would be allowed to walk with someone from their own delegation. After the conference the two sides together would be required to choose a tree to be planted in the forest and together they must plant it following the latest directions for correct planting. Then they must walk out of the forest side by side with someone new from the other delegation. This is what I see when I think of world peace.

            The Susie forest is all over the world. One special planting was when we planted a tree on each side of the US, Canada border. Trees help us stay connected and by planting them people can be brought together. The world is where the Susie Forest is. While I would like to have an actual forest that people could go to; having the forest everywhere is something important as well. I will keep on planting and hope to spread my little bit of peace as I do.