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Talking to Trees: Spackman Mossop Michaels Facilitates a Complex Conversation Around Trees in Detroit

Talking to Trees: Spackman Mossop Michaels Facilitates a Complex Conversation Around Trees in Detroit

Talk Tree To Me is an interactive design project installed for the Month of Design—a month-long design festival in Detroit. The project is a collaboration by Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM)—a landscape architecture and urban design firm in Detroit and New Orleans—and its partners Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. The project is part urban eco-scavenger hunt and part interactive exhibit. Residents can explore the Detroit Riverfront throughout the month and interact via text message with a collection of 12 different species of trees that have been programed with the real-life thoughts and questions of local Detroiters. The exhibit is live during the entire month of September 2020.

Talk Tree To Me aims to facilitate a conversation about trees, using trees themselves as the vehicle of conversation. Trees are important to a city. But there are lots of mixed feelings about trees in Detroit. Beyond the tangible issues around urban ecosystem health, economic benefits, and resiliency, trees are tied to larger cultural narratives about identity, race, wealth, and justice. With this project, SMM seeks to engage the community in this messy conversation, and tie it to place, memory, and the potential for transformation.

The goal of the project is to open a space for conversation about the community’s attitude towards urban trees and at the same time bring people in close contact with the trees in their city. The project pairs a Detroiter with a tree, as the voice of the tree—asking the questions and setting the topics the trees will discuss with the public. At the end of the month, selected conversations between the public and the trees will be posted on the website, revealing some of the unfiltered thoughts Detroiters have about trees and their role in people’s lives.

Detroit Month of Design, hosted by Design Core, is a citywide celebration of creativity that gathers designers and the greater community to celebrate Detroit’s role as a national and global design capital, and the only US city designated as a UNESCO City of Design. This September 1-30, partners across Detroit—from emerging studios to established companies to educational institutions—come together to exhibit their latest works and ideas.

Find out more about the project and participants through the website, for evolving content from the project throughout the month.


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Cite: "Talking to Trees: Spackman Mossop Michaels Facilitates a Complex Conversation Around Trees in Detroit " 15 Sep 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/947679/talking-to-trees-spackman-mossop-michaels-facilitates-a-complex-conversation-around-trees-in-detroit> ISSN 0719-8884

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