My project partner, Moya, and I began Sprouting Possibilities with the understanding that collaboration is necessary for any successful ecosystem. In the face of today’s environmental issues, working together can help cultivate hope through creative solutions.
How can we, as the initiators of climate change, act more in collaboration with our surroundings? We have already seen that plant hardiness zones were altered in 2012 and they will move again soon. The country is getting hotter as silver maples—one of many species in our forests, can no longer live as far south as they used to.
Speculating on these questions, we created the sculptural aspect of Sprouting Possibilities which features nine 22’ translucent banners, each featuring the image of an imagined canopy of a native tree in Philadelphia, from Flowering Dogwood to Sugar Maple. With this sculpture, we hosted an event on June 3rd that highlighted artistic modes of engagement with the natural world as well as a massive tree planting initiative.
The tree planting party with Urban Arboreta and Land Health Institute brought together people from all over the city (as well as a few New Yorkers) who learned to plant young tree saplings together. To put the trees into their ecological context, we walked the site with Land Health Institute director and ecologist, Scott Quitel, who described the dynamic interactions between the plants, the birds and other animal species found on the site. We saw these ongoing ‘collaborations’ at work, and paused to re-think our own relationship with it all.
Throughout the course of Sprouting Possibilities, we have looked closely into to the life cycle of trees to see what clues we might learn from the process. We see ourselves as germinators as we plant seeds and care for the young saplings. We see the community as proverbial migratory instigators, like wind, water, and animals who move the seedlings across the city to propagate widely.
This project is inexplicably linked to Urban Arboreta’s goals as well as the potential for other vacant lots in this city. These sites all have hidden ecologies: they are rich with fresh seed populations that might grow into our future urban canopy.
Sprouting Possibilities explored some of these possibilities planting a total of 250 seedlings that will be available July 20th from 5:30 to 8pm to take home and care for.
(Collaborators laura c carlson and Moya Sun in their installation.)