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The Flower Show

S(tree)twork celebrates Earth Day at Awbury Arboretum

April 13, 2023

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April 13, 2023 – Philadelphia, PA – On April 22, 2023 the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) multi-year public art project, S(tree)twork, now in its third year, will celebrate Earth Day with a “ground building” ceremony for a new structure on the Farm at Awbury Arboretum, and an afternoon animated by hands-on activities for the public.  

Earth Day Celebration Event 
Saturday, April 22, 2023  
9:00 am - 6:00 pm  
The Farm at Awbury Arboretum 
6336 Ardleigh St, Philadelphia, PA 19138. 
Details and Map 

S(tree)twork was conceived to inspire new perceptions of trees through arts and culture, and to stimulate interest in proliferating the urban forest. S(tree)twork aligns with the City of Philadelphia’s new Philly Tree Plan to equitably protect and grow Philadelphia’s tree canopy and “to set forth new ways of working with residents to mitigate climate change and to prioritize equity in delivery, ensuring that the most vulnerable communities benefit from a healthy tree canopy.”  

PHS’s decades-long involvement in expanding tree canopy in the Greater Philadelphia region promotes health and well-being for hundreds of communities, and its cadre of tree volunteers named PHS Tree Tenders now numbers 6,000. S(tree)twork is curated by Marina McDougall on behalf of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), in partnership with the international art and design collective Futurefarmers. S(tree)twork has been supported by a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. 

The S(tree)twork project is guided by the cycle of a tree’s life. Following a seasonal rhythm, S(tree)twork transforms fallen trees into percussive instruments such as drums and xylophones that are then played at street planting events in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. This program has been developed through a two-year participatory process led by the artists’ group Futurefarmers.  

Drawing on the rich history and community of musicians in Philadelphia, the S(tree)twork program turns to the transformative power of sound to summon diverse cultural communities towards participation in Philadelphia’s urban greening efforts as part of a holistic approach to community health. Each year, S(tree)twork collects trees fallen by storm, disease, or age. Through a workshop led by local woodworkers and musical instrument builders, the trees are transformed into sound making instruments.  

The new structure at Awbury Arboretum, built on the ruins of a former stone barn, will serve as a community woodworking space for the making of S(tree)twork’s musical instruments. Designed by Futurefarmer’s lead architect Lode Vranken, the built intervention was informed by a community design process and will be built together with Japanese wood joinery woodworker Nobuto Suga who will join from San Francisco. Participants in the Challenge Program and other volunteers will contribute to the building of the structure being stewarded by the Philadelphia architectural studio Oz Collaborative, and Hanson Fine Building

As Futurefarmer founder and lead artist Amy Franchescini describes, “a fallen tree is essential to regenerating the complex ecosystem around it. S(tree)twork extends the life of the tree to include the city through the transformation of fallen trees into percussive instruments. Musicians branch out into the community animating tree plantings supported by a volunteer network of PHS Tree Tenders.” 
S(tree)twork’s programs contribute to a regenerative process benefitting both natural and human ecologies—extending the webs of life—from ground level human habitats to the birds and insects living in the tops of trees throughout Philadelphia's neighborhoods.  

9:00 am - 12:00 pm - Tree Planting: S(tree)twork volunteers will plant a small grove of six trees around the barn ruin with drumming by Rich Robinson, Karen Smith, Julius Rivera 

3:00 pm - 3:45 pm - Ground Building Ceremony: S(tree)twork collaborators will plant two saplings—representing the life cycle of the tree and the generative nature of the project—while Futurefarmers founder and lead artist Amy Franchescini, architect Lode Vranken, and S(tree)twork curator Marina McDougall will informally present the design of the new built intervention 

3:45 pm - 5:00 pm - Block printing and drumming: S(tree)twork collaborating artists Aaron Terry and Amir Robinson will facilitate block printing using a mobile printing press created through S(tree)twork’s community engagement activities. Bring an instrument and a T-shirt to print! 

S(tree)twork, a public art project of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society rooted in Philadelphia, was conceived to inspire new perceptions of trees, and proliferate the urban forest. A series of public programs, public service announcements, and a built intervention will raise awareness of the vital role of trees in urban communities. Led by interdisciplinary curator Marina McDougall and the international art and design collective Futurefarmers, programming includes hands-on workshops that motivate public participation in tree planting across Philadelphia—particularly in low tree canopy neighborhoods. A community co-design workshop has informed the function and form of the built intervention. This hybrid structure will serve as a workshop and a gathering space to support reforestation efforts in Philadelphia. Awbury Arboretum in East Germantown serves as the site for the built intervention, with additional community sites and partnering organizations including UC Green, Nicetown-Tioga Community Development Center, and Heritage CDC. A culminating publication will document the project’s key phases and capture the contributions of the project’s many collaborators including microbial ecologist Ignacio Chapela, and anthropologist Michael Taussig. S(tree)twork is managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. 

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization founded in 1827, uses horticulture to advance the health and well-being of the Greater Philadelphia region. PHS programs create healthier living environments, increase access to fresh food, expand access to jobs and economic opportunity, and strengthen deeper social connections between people. PHS’s work spans 250 neighborhoods; an expansive network of public gardens and landscapes; year-round learning experiences; and the nation’s signature gardening event, the Philadelphia Flower Show. PHS provides everyone with opportunities to garden for the greater good as a participant, member, donor, or volunteer.  

For more information on S(tree)twork, please visit below.