Client: Land Health Institute
Location: PHILADELPHIA, PA, United States
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $6,000
Sprouting Possibilities is a social impact design response to the shifting environmental conditions for Philadelphia’s native plants. The project is invested in spreading knowledge about changing hardiness zones due to human made climate change. An installation of tree shadow printed on transparent fabric is built on a vacant land, as a memorial to the fading past and the possible yet unrealized future.
The project began as a conversation between landscape architect Moya Sun and artist laura c carlson. Asking questions about how humans exist within the natural world, Sun and carlson agree that urban spaces are as much a part of the natural world as our forests and waterways. As the locations that plants can thrive in alter, how will ecosystems respond and morph? Can we trace these alterations? How can we delay these shifts? In what ways can we intervene so the Sugar Maples and Flowering Dogwoods we plant today will thrive here in 50 years?
In a solo project leading up to their collaboration, carlson planted 680 native Philadelphia tree seeds in used coffee cups adorned with toy wheels, embodying impending unstable environments for these trees. Sun simultaneously proposed a public art piece that memorialized the trees of Philadelphia, considering the rich forested past of the Schuylkill River and surrounding areas.
On June 3rd, Sprouting Possibilities hosted a tree planting party with partners Urban Arboreta and Land Health Institute. Bringing together people from all over the city, visitors 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. Visitors engaged with these ongoing ‘collaborations’ at work and questioned human’s relationship to them.
“We envision ourselves as seed propagators and catalysts, akin to the wind or creatures that disseminate seeds across the landscape. We consider our partners, Urban Arboreta, Land Health Institute and community members, to be harmonizers, the environmental factors that provide the perfect conditions for life to thrive. The community who plants and moves the seeds to their homes are the germinators. They are the actionable growers and nurturers of the seeds. Using 49th and Parkside vacant lot as a site for hopeful interventions we plan a project that invites the community to act as germinators for tree seeds.”