The “Community Story-Tree”

Participants bring their community history alive through an art project, developing a sculptural tree that speaks of the community’s past, present and future. Together, community members plant the tree sculpture in a special place, and then gather to share stories around the sculpture.

To begin with, families bring artifacts from their histories and share their stories, their struggles and their triumphs. Participants collect rocks and other objects from the community, interview residents and draw pictures and take photos of the special places in the community.

Together participants experiment with art forms; the use of clay, carving, framing, and recycled materials to create an artistic pattern reflecting the ecology and social life of the community. Within this pattern individuals use photos, family treasures and pieces of discarded objects so that the stories of families are woven into the community story.

The tree sculpture is planted during a community celebration of song, dance, poetry and art as participants reclaim the land in the name of their neighborhood. From then on, the space around the tree becomes a gathering point for school literacy, history, social studies, and art classes to shape their own stories and for community events to contribute to the ongoing story and evolution of the sculpture.