Text-A-Tree is one part public engagement and one part academic study. We want to encourage people to connect with nature in cities, while testing how technology can help. We’re welcoming all people and looking to honour Mi’kmaq and Japanese culture in particular. We propose that if we want people to develop relationships with trees, we should emulate how they develop relationships with each other. By texting! Starting on July 7, 2019, you are invited to text some of the trees in the Halifax Public Gardens and receive a unique reply provided by our volunteers. If you could talk to a tree, what would you say….? Let’s find out!
The project is led by Julietta Sorensen Kass, with the help of The Friends of the Public Gardens, Peter Duinker and the Halifax Tree Project, Dalhousie University, and some phenomenal volunteers. We are especially grateful to have received the Suellen Murray Educational Bursary, without which Text-A-Tree would not be possible. Learn more about the bursary and the legacy of Suellen, here.
If you choose to text a tree, you’ll receive a reply from the volunteer voicing that individual. We don’t charge anything for you to text, and you can say as much or as little as you like. To get the phone number, come meet the tree in person! Each talking-tree will have a sign with their unique name and phone number. If you aren’t the chatty type, text your wish to the Wish Tree instead! You can also participate online by using the hashtag #textatreehalifax or following us @textatreehalifax on Facebook and Instagram.
Julietta will be using the project to test whether texting and Social Media can be used to help people connect with trees. If the answer is yes, then why? She also wants to find out what makes trees important to people. She will answer these questions by 1) looking at the number of people who like/post to/comment on Instagram, 2) reading the messages people send to trees, 3) asking people two survey questions at the end. The results of the study will teach us about public engagement strategies and could help inform decisions about urban forests.