“Seeing this mural, I feel inspired and connected, because I am reminded of the commitment humanity has in caring for this earth and all her beings.”
The Singing Tree Project continues to grow out of the fertile soil of the following questions: What if all people in a community created together? What if we made shared visions of success around challenges that are important to us? What if every voice and vision mattered? What if we modeled the mutualism of trees where all the leaves of a tree worked for the whole tree? What if we made visual representations of democracy? What if the whole world made a painting together? The Forest of collaborative murals is Peace Building Through Art: the mission of Unity Through Creativity’s partner, Create Peace Project.
Create Peace Project was honored to be a featured exhibitor at the 2017 Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. Attendees participated in a Singing Tree Scavenger Hunt. Comments from the Scavenger Hunt are interspersed throughout this blog.
“I like that a tree is coming out of the Planet Earth and spreading its roots, limbs, branches, birds, life and hope out into the solar system.”
“The simplicity and complexity of the mural leaves me in awe, with feelings of comfort and understanding, peace and harmony.”
A Big Singing Tree
In addition to the display of eight Singing Trees at Bioneers during October, Create Peace Project facilitated the Jane Goodall Singing Tree of Love (8′ x 12′) at Chrissy Field in San Francisco. Ross Holzman, founder of Create Peace Project, and I co-designed the background which was added to by 300 youth environmental activists who are a part of Roots ‘n Shoots. They expressed their love of the natural and human world. Jane Goodall reviewed 25 environmental projects that were presented at the gathering and inspired us with her insights as a dedicated, fierce, curious, humble and loving scientist.
“The amount of love in this mural is incredible and awe-inspiring. So are the many contributions by the youth and the mural’s connection with both Nature and others.”
Three Little Singing Trees
Three small Singing Trees have grown as well – one with Center of Environmental Inquiry at Sonoma State University’s Osborne Preserve: one with Sonoma State University Teaching for Sustainable Communities Institute and one with Jack London Elementary School in Santa Rosa, California.
For the first one, I partnered with Scientist Suzanne DeCoursey for a one-day workshop, exploring the Fairfield Osborn Preserve, a 450 acre nature reserve situated on the northwest flank of Sonoma Mountain in Sonoma County, California. In the morning, we walked the Preserve in silence after Suzanne taught us about the complex ecosystem and the history of the land. In the afternoon, we made The Bay Laurel Singing Tree of Curiosity (3′ x 4′) about the wonder, curiosity and questions that were alive in us. We incorporated found natural objects in the living artifact of our journey together and shared a rich conversation.
The second little Singing Tree involved 30 educators who were focusing on how to teach for sustainable communities at Sonoma State University, I harvested the genius in the room in an Oak Singing Tree (3′ x 6′). The leaves represented the educators passion for sustainability and the birds represented a project to be co-created with students.
A Precious Outgrowth
One of the most gratifying outcomes of the workshop was that educator, Amy Wilson, of Geyserville New Tech Academy, facilitated the Phoenix Singing Tree (5′ x 3′) after wildfires ravaged her community. She used the collaborative structure as a healing tool. Amy painted the background and community members, high school students and elementary school students added birds (friends of the Phoenix), water drops and leaves. The painting was given to the Geyserville Fire Protections Firehouse.“The whole experience helped me reconnect with my inner true artist and it bonded a group of people that might have not otherwise come together,” Amy said.
And A Child Will Lead Them
Finally, I share a second Phoenix Singing Tree made by James Garcia’s 6th grade class of 30 students at Jack London Elementary School. The Santa Rosa school is located a few blocks from the residential areas that were completely destroyed by the fires. Three students lost their homes and one had to move to the midwest and leave his friends in the middle of the school year. The schools mascot of a wolf is honored in the painting. “The students used this project to recover from the terror of the devastation they had experience. Working together, they turned their pain into something magical and powerful,” their teacher said at the completion of the project. The image has brought comfort to people throughout the fire-stricken region, which also empowers the recovering students.
May we all rise together out the of destruction that surrounds us to create peace and beauty. When all voices and visions are honored, something bigger than each of us emerges.
May you have a blessed time of thanks, especially to the First Nations whose land we reside upon.