A Cincinnati arborist wants to help the kid in all of us find peace and a new perspective at the other end of a tree house ladder.

By Hannah Agran
Tree house

Movin' on up Every child longs to live in a tree house. "That just never went away for me," says Django Kroner. At 19, he moved to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky to pursue rock climbing. For income, he apprenticed with a cabin builder. Those skills turned out to be a perfect pair: If you know rigging and carpentry, and have a spark of Swiss Family Robinson inside, you can build a tree house. So he did, living there for three years.

You can stay in this tree house! The Canopy Crew rents out three in Kentucky's scenic Red River Gorge, near hiking trails, a national forest, rock climbing and a paddling river. Photo: Peter McDermott.

Bet the branch Inspired by his friends' enthusiasm for his high-rise home, Django shadowed an arborist to learn more about tree science. In 2012, he moved back to Ohio and launched The Canopy Crew. His team has built custom tree houses for all ages, in destinations as remote as Mexico. But Django has a soft spot for local hardwoods: "They are structurally strong and usually naturally resistant to local pests and disease. And they're beautiful."

Dreaming tree Django describes tree house life reverently: "It's like riding a horse compared to a motorcycle. A motorcycle is fun, but a horse is alive. Putting your house in a giant living organism is profound. You get to know the tree and feel safe in the branches. A lot of the forest doesn't recognize that you're there. You're up close with birds, tree frogs and flying squirrels. It's an intimacy with the canopy you can't experience any other way."

Django Kroner. Photo: John Wesely.

Trees of Hope Django donates a portion of The Canopy Crew's proceeds from every job to help plant diverse tree species in Africa that will supply sustainable food and income and restore healthy soil and forests.

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