Archive for January, 2020

Write with trees!



Katie Holten has created a New York City Tree Alphabet. Check it out!

Each letter of the Latin alphabet is assigned a drawing of a tree from the NYC Parks Department’s existing native and non-native trees, as well as species that are to be planted as a result of the changing climate. For example, A = Ash.

Everyone is invited to download the free font, NYC Trees, and to write words, poems, messages, or love letters, in Trees.

Visit www.nyctrees.org to write with Trees.
Follow Katie Holten for more info: @katieholten

#nyctrees #nyctreestalk #nyctreealphabet

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The girl grandchildren were disappointed there was no snow this year, but spent their time in the woods making a fort out of fallen trees, bark and leaves.

They spent two days constructing it and slept in it overnight in 30° weather. We all had bets on how long they would stay out. They stayed out from 8:30 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. We were all amazed—and very impressed. :-) They even made breakfast out of hickory nuts they harvested from the woods and picked out of their shells.

I wonder what challenge they will set for themselves next year?

Marijo Carney, Kalamazoo, MI

Iris (10), Delilah (8) and Lydia (6). Oscar is in the photos but only for the photo’s sake, he had no interest in staying outside.

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Shady embrace


Art by Beth McMahon, May 2019, San Antonio, TX

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 Kalamazoo, MI

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Points of view

Arwork and handmade paper by Kalamazoo, MI artists, calligraphers and story-tellers

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Regenerating Hope

Regenerating Hope

by Kirsi Jansa, cofounder of Creatives for Climate (C4C), a Pittsburgh-based collaborative of artists, educators and communicators

December 2019

What can we do? Is there any hope? Those are the top two questions people ask of Richard Powers, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Overstory. (If you have not read The Overstory yet – seriously, consider reading it.) Those are also the questions we as Creatives for Climate collaborative artivists ponder a lot of the time.

Richard Powers gave a brave and deeply inspiring talk as a part of the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures series in December. He did not shy away from telling us, about 1800 people, about studies that show increasing global temperatures correlate with increase in aggressiveness, violence and suicides. “Talking about hope becomes increasingly difficult. How to talk about this without increasing anxiety and yet be hopeful, useful and true?”

Earlier in the day about 25 educators gathered at the Frick Environmental Center for a meet and greet with Richard. “We have internalized that humans and nature are separate and different. Yet we are starting to realize that we did not win the war against nature. The rules are changing.” Mary Ann and I shared our personal tree story with the group: On Arbor Day last spring, a 40-foot black cherry tree fell on top of the car we were driving. The car was totaled, we survived unharmed. The author confirmed what we had assumed: People share their tree stories with him all the time. He finds them essential. “Trees operate on different rules than we do. They challenge our beliefs. Yet, they are living beings and it’s time we start taking them as living agents. Once you let go of the human-nature binary, a rich new view opens.”

In the evening, from Carnegie Music Hall podium, Richard spoke about an awakening and transformative experience that revealed to him just how “plant-blind” he had been. Until then, he had bought into of our collective story that excludes a huge part of the living Earth – non-humans. “I had our story all wrong, plot, character, moral. It all seemed to be faltering. There was life out there.”

His conclusion does not put all at ease: “If your definition of hope is to get past the finish line with all the stuff, then I’m not your man.” Richard Powers is convinced that even if we are able to end our carbon emissions but don’t examine our deep held beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves, we and our systems will remain in trouble. “How badly we have mistaken the survival of the fittest. Each survival is caused by many acts of collaboration. The fittest is the most connected individual.”

This Tree Whisperer has found a new kind of hope: Inter-being, co-arising and co-evolution. “Trees have been around for about 300 million years and survived many extinctions. It’s not the world that is ending but our failed human experiment.”  He invites us to a life of connections and meaning.  “Reside yourself with the Earth and become part of the community.”

With The Overstory’s wisdom lingering in my mind, I took a morning walk in Frick Park and it dawned on me: Maybe those in denial or disconnected to our crisis are dormant, like trees in winter. Maybe they are so overwhelmed they forgot what it means to be wildly and vibrantly alive? It did not take long before the second insight landed:  When I let my fear and anger turn into resentment  towards those who don’t see and feel the same urgency as I do, I too become less alive and more disconnected.

For the sake of us all, humans and non-humans, each one of us is called to be a creative for climate. So how on Earth are we to be on this Earth? How do trees forgive themselves and each other? How do trees find courage? How do they nurture and regenerate life? The answer, my friend, is growing in the woods. See you there.


Treewhispers is honored to be partnering in the C4C exhibition, “Crafting Conversations: A Call and Response to our Changing Climate” which has been extended through January 24, 2020 to be part of the Gallery Crawl. Please join curators and artists from 7 – 8pm in the last night of the exhibition, located at Contemporary Craft Satellite Gallery  Steel Plaza T-Station, 500 Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.

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It takes a village

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