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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Photo by Amanda Love

The Dawes Arboretum Artist-in-Residence and Treewhispers Ambassador, Amand Love shares her joy of papermaking with the Dawes Leadership Team.  Can’t wait to hear their tree stories!

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Gratitude to the many enthusiastic volunteers, participants, and Treewhispers Ambassadors sharing their time, talents and creative energy to assist in the upcoming Treewhispers installation at The Dawes Arboretum.

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Artwork by Rick Garlington and Thomas Burns

This summer while the Treewhispers installation inhabited the Kalamazoo Nature Center in Michigan, the Texas Kaligrafos Calligraphy Guild (spearheaded by Thomas Burns, “Bur Oak”) gathered for numerous papermaking, art and storytelling sessions. (See previous posts for many of the activities and artwork and stories.) The group then gathered to bind over 1100 paper rounds into 33 twelve foot trees—all while creating their own nature-inspired broadsides for a parallel exhibition.

Plans for a 2-month exhibition were abruptly overturned a week prior to installation with the gallery unexpectedly closing its doors. Needless to say, disappointment was abounding—and rightly so after many months of dedicated planning.

I’m greatly appreciative of the connections, support, and contribution by so many and want to assure the group from something I’ve learned as a vessel for this project for 20 years— is that Treewhispers has its own rhythm. The project has always had an energy of its own—like seasons, not always congruent with ours might I add. I suppose I could liken it to planting a tree with a lot of nurturing and watering initially, knowing that there is a time for new growth and blossoming, a time of great autumn beauty and time of dormancy—each season significant to the cycles in life and all in its own time.

Also, I’d like to share words I heard in a speech from Andy Goldsworthy as he was reflecting on an unexpectedly postponed installation at the MCA. It was February and the landscape artist had proposed freezing a stone cairn horizontally from the museum’s wall—but it was February in Chicago and Chicago’s weather can be fickle. He made clear his disappointment and debated with himself as to whether the project was a failure—how to proceed—how do you give a talk about something that hasn’t happened? He concluded that he would return when the conditions were right and complete the work “and in the meantime, the stones will be waiting—and there is poetry in waiting.”

As I head to The Dawes Arboretum in Ohio for the new installation I know that the rounds, the stories, the “trees”  in Texas are waiting—and there is poetry in waiting.

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The Wish of a Dying Tree

In appreciation to Bud Wilson (Marilyn Sward’s brother) for sharing this compelling story :

-by Lisa Murry – November 8, 2019

Nothing is an accident!

A few weeks ago the cosmos landed me somewhat unexpectedly in Paris. I stayed with a friend and in the course of the visit, I did some energy work with the golden retriever in her care, inviting the dog to love little dogs instead of running away scared. It worked wonderfully and my friend is hugely grateful!

Today she sent me a story about a 200 year old apple tree in the UK that is dying of a fungal disease, asking me ‘can you help?’

My fellow earth mystic, Eliza Atsma, has supersonic powers with plant healing, so I sent the request on to her in the Netherlands.

I was not at all prepared for what came next…

A few hours later Eliza sent me a detailed page of notes, directly from her communication with the tree. I had no idea you could cry so much about a tree.

Clearly, this isn’t just ‘any old tree’

Known as the Bramley Tree, she asked that I add my energetic awareness to this message before sharing it with the wider world.

So this is a collaborative conversation…

Starting with the tree’s energy, Eliza’s notes and my awareness… if you are willing, it will also include YOU as we go forward.

“As soon as I connect with her, she is all over me. Her energy is soothing, vibrant, powerful and eager. Yes, her physical body is dying, and that’s okay. All life has a cycle, hers is coming to the end.

She is clear about her cause of death: a lack of flow. The fungus is merely a symptom. She lacks the flow of connection, wisdom, communion, and most of all she lacks being received. There are not many ancient trees left around the world to commune with.

Together the ancient mother trees connect Earth’s dragon lines (leylines), creating a communication grid of magnetic fields.

Trees are here for much more than oxygen.

They keep the worldwide web of roots flowing. The trees are wisdom keepers and they flow their wisdom forward to the next generations. 

As the number of trees is lessening, there is more wisdom and energy available than the young trees can handle or store, making their ‘job’ on planet earth almost impossible.

The Bramley Tree has more energy than places she can share it

and so she aches. 

For a few seconds, she gives me her full potency. It hurts my body.  She knows, and turns her energy down to match what my body can handle. 

Therein lies the real problem…

Turning down her energy blocks her flow, like a traffic jam. When the earth was covered in big old trees, energetic paths were plentiful and wisdom flowed with ease.” ~ Eliza

Last weekend I met a very big tree in Australia’s Bunya Mountains.

Through Eliza, the Bramley Tree asked me to connect her with that tree as she needed a physical ‘bridge’ to make the connection. 

With so few Mother Trees left, they cannot reach each other via their roots anymore. Yes – trees have families and connections just like we do.

Be with that for a moment… let it sink in.

For me it explains why I get so distressed when I see big trees being torn down, sometimes thousands at a time. It’s not just that tree. It’s the wisdom that is lost, the planetary connections no longer possible, and the tree keepers that are now homeless. The unseen impact is far greater than we have acknowledged.

There is a new cosmic grid being formed and, if you’re still reading, chances are you are part of its creation. This new grid will do some of the work of the Mother Trees (nature is infinitely adaptable!).

The wish of this dying Mother Tree is that we will assist all trees to become connected to the new grid by letting them know it exists.

We are amazing connection points and, since our bodies can move around the globe, our willingness to travel is essential to establishing the connection of the grids.  

(Sidenote – for the past 18 months especially I have been acutely aware of my role in connecting trees and forests to each other energetically – my events are a small part of my travels).

What can WE do?

The Bramley Tree made a formal request of Eliza to formally request that I would pass this information on to anyone (and everyone) who can receive this information.

You may think I’m crazy. Or you may be ready to commune with trees in a totally new way. I gently ask you to let your WildHeart take the lead. 

Don’t think. BE.

1. Connect with the trees around you. Let them know about the new cosmic grid that is here to assist them in their work. 
As soon as new trees become aware of it, the energy will sort itself so that no tree gets more information than they can handle individually

2. Plant more trees. For the love of this planet, plant trees everywhere you can. 
It will help the underground wisdom network enormously. If you don’t have land, or you want to amplify your impact, donate to TreeSisters – they are reforesting the world.

3. Gently touch the trees that you come into connection with. 
They desire to gift you energy and wisdom so that you can increase your communion with the planet.

4. Every time you meet a big old tree, ask it if there is anything you can do for it… you may be wildly surprised!

5. Befriend the tree keepers – they are elemental beings who no longer have a tree to ‘keep’. Engage with them energetically.

6. What else do YOU know? 
What capacities do you have? 
Commune with the trees and ask them to show you…

This is a conversation for all the earth mystics in the world… 

Please share this post with anyone with whom it may resonate…
(only in its entirety and with full attribution please – context is everything!)

Let us bring connection to each other and the trees. Nature has spoken.

P.S. If you aren’t sure about talking to trees, start where you can – touch them, plant them, be open to them. They will show you the way.

P.P.S. Here is the original story about the Bramley Tree.  And here is the *Personal Conversations With The Earth* group we’ve started on Facebook for like-hearted beings.


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TREE WHISPERS 8.5 x 11TREEWHISPERSLOGO2 copyExperience the exhibit and upcoming events at The Dawes Arboretum.
Treewhispers is an ongoing international collaboration awakening our heartfelt connection to trees. The art installation features paper rounds that hang from ceiling to floor, reminiscent of trees. Each round highlights its maker’s connection to trees with stories, poetry, and art. We invite you to experience this forest of inspiration and explore your connection to trees. To learn more about the Treewhispers project, please visit www. treewhispers.com.

Join us for one of our upcoming programs focused on this installation:

Members-Only Preview
Friday, January 10 | 6-8pm

Arboretum members are invited to a special, members-only preview of Treewhispers on Friday, January 10 from 6 to 8pm. Be among the first to enjoy this exhibit at The Arboretum and meet its Co-Creator Pamela Paulsrud and current artist in residence, Amanda Love. Register now.

Artists Talk with Treewhispers Co-Creator, Pamela Paulsrud
Saturday, January 11 | 1-1:30pm | Included with Admission

Pamela Paulsrud is recognized internationally as a papermaker, calligrapher, book artist and collaborator, but her greatest passion is the ongoing project she co-created with artist Marilyn Sward called Treewhispers. Join Pamela to get an inside look at this exhibition.

Calligraphy Demonstration and Hands-On Activities:
Saturday, January 11 | 1:30-3:30pm | Included with Admission

Columbus Calligraphy Guild members and Granville’s stationery boutique, Just Write, are offering calligraphy demonstrations and a collection of writing implements to experiment with as you create your one-of-a-kind Treewhisper. Presently, Treewhispers has contributions that include text and/or imagery. Some suggest tree rings, depict leaves or illustrate a personally significant tree; others are imprinted with a poem or a meaningful story relating to trees. You’re invited to join the forest by enhancing your flat handmade paper round with your tree story, poetry and/or art.

Treewhispers Sessions Included with Admission:

Come join Amanda Love, Treeswhispers contributor and Dawes Arboretum’s current artist in residence, and share your tree story with us! Once again, you’re invited to join the forest by decorating your flat handmade paper round with your tree story, poetry and/or art. Register for one of these sessions on our calendar.

Monday, January 20 | 1-3pm or

Friday, February 14 | 1-3pm or

Saturday, February 29 | 1-3pm or

Sunday, March 1 | 1-3pm

Be sure to visit local artist, Treewhispers ambassador and Dawes Arboretum artist in residence Amanda Love during her residency on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12 to 2pm through March 17. Stop by the Zand Education Center, and learn about the Arboretum inspired art she is creating.

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Love the smile on Leigh Ann’s face as she assembles invitations for the upcoming Treehwhispers’ exhibition. It appears to be a beautifully printed invitation sharing detailed information paired with a unique handmade paper round —an invitation to share your personal tree story (handmade paper compliments of Artist in Residence and Treewhispers ambassador, Amanda Love).

Director of Development, Leigh Ann Miller assembling invitations for the upcoming Treewhispers exhibition at The Dawes Arboretum.

Photo by Artist in Residence, Amanda Love.

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