Dave Walters, the tree-sitter who spent three days perched in one of the branches of three imperiled Eastmoreland neighborhood sequoias, returned to earth on Friday evening soon after a deal was signed to save the trees from a developer's chainsaw.
"If you feel like you want to give to your community, and give outside of what you normally would do," Walters says, "you really need to do that out of what is your own abundance."
"I had time," he says. "That's what I had to give."
For 76 hours, Walters lived on supplies hoisted up to him during the week, and said that going up into the trees was the best way he could have helped to try and preserve them.
Walters, who came to be called "Lorax Dave" by activists on the ground, was replaced in the tree by a small paper Lorax modeled after the tree-speaking Dr. Seuss character.
"This is my first time doing anything like sitting in a tree like this," Walters said once he was on the ground.
Indeed, Arthur Bradford, the site's neighbor to the east, attributed a delay in Walters' descent to the fact that he'd never rappelled out of a tree before.
To the neighbors and others involved in saving the trees, which nearly met their demise several times this week, the fact that they're still standing is a source of joy and even bewilderment.
"I honestly believed that we couldn't do it," Bradford said. "I just thought we had to accept the fact that somebody had the right to cut them down and put a house here."
But after two days of negotiations, eventually brokered by Mayor Charlie Hales, home builder Vic Remmers agreed to sell the property to a group of donors including South Parkco-creator Matt Stone. KGW reports that developer Ethan Beck will build a smaller house on the lot that will spare the trees.
It's the second time this summer that environmental activists have taken to the skies in a "direct action" protest. In late July, 13 Greenpeace volunteers dangled from the St. Johns Bridge to delay the passage of a Shell Oil-contracted icebreaking ship called the MSV Fennica.
Walters says that in this latest protest, a sense of trust served as the glue between the effort's moving parts.
"When you know that you're doing what you absolutely should be doing," Walters says, "and you know that consequences might not be right, you've got to rely on crowds of people saying, 'Yes, you are doing what is right.'
"There is just so much talent and amazing, good energy, and people that really know how to communicate with each other," he continued. "Watching that come around me was just so surreal. I don't even know how to explain that."
Walters, who "had the entire world wide web" on his phone to keep him busy when things slowed down, spent the rest of his time up top trying not to pay too much attention to what was going on around him.
"I did not want to focus on how long I'd been there, what time it was, how sore my legs were," he said.
"A decision-making process where I was not at the table? I did not want to think about that," he added. "I wanted to rely on that trust."
And it worked.
"We got it done," he said. "How could we have known this would have worked so well?"