Beth Goodpaster and her husband, Richard Duncan, were devastated when they learned that the red oak in their yard was rotting inside.
“It was going to have to come down, because it was a hazard,” Goodpaster says. “We were very sad to lose the shade… One of the things we liked about this neighborhood is all the gorgeous old trees.”
The person they hired to chop down the tree told the couple that they would need to grind out the stump. Instead, they decided to investigate whether they could keep the stump and have it made into a sculpture.
Goodpaster knew right away what she wanted the sculpture to be: the Lorax.
They commissioned chainsaw artist Curtis Ingvoldstad, who’s based near Northfield, Minnesota, to make the Lorax come to life. “I called him out of the blue,” Goodpaster says. “I saw his website, and saw amazing things he had done. I felt a little silly asking him to do something as simple as a Lorax.”
In Dr. Suess’ The Lorax, the titular character pops out from a chopped down Truffula tree to warn the Once-ler, who was responsible for the tree’s demise, that his actions are folly.
Undeterred, the Once-ler carries on cutting down Truffulas, eventually building a giant factory that pollutes the air and water of the land. When all the trees have been demolished, the Lorax flies off, leaving a stump with the word “Unless” as a message for future generations that the world will be destroyed... “unless” someone plants Truffula trees again.
Dr. Seuss created the character after the first Earth Day, publishing the book in 1971.
For the sculpture, located in the Tangletown neighborhood in south Minneapolis, Goodpaster consulted with Ingvoldstad about how the Lorax should be standing. “We didn’t want his arms sticking way out,” she says. “Curtis was thinking he should have a nice pensive look to him.” Below the Lorax reads the message from the book, “Unless,” as a call for people to plant trees.
So far, the sculpture has garnered quite a bit of attention in its front-yard location near Minnehaha Creek. As people walk along the trail, they’ll stop and take a picture. Some even shout a positive message from their cars.
“It’s bringing some joy, so we are happy about that,” Goodpaster says.