Thursday, July 14, 2016

Artist Anne Percoco has created the project #TreeSpeech, a social media performance piece intended to give voice to the trees of Jersey City. Together with Sustainable Jersey City, a collaborative network of green community groups and individuals, Percoco is mapping the city’s trees and recruiting volunteers to tweet on behalf of the trees, in first person. With the ultimate goal of mapping 50 trees by mid-September, Percoco has so far chosen 11 trees, outfitting them with a sign denoting their name, Twitter handle, and recruiting a dedicated volunteer to manage the account.

The Twitter handles feature first person tweets from the perspective of the trees, and include anything from daily observations, facts raising environmental awareness, or even soothing soundscapes. Ultimately, the project aims to highlight the importance of trees in Jersey City while motivating the local government to action. Furthermore, #TreeSpeech seeks to bring attention to the city’s Tree Canopy Study released by the Jersey City Environmental Commission in July of 2015, which recommends that the city add 30,000 trees to its urban space.

“#TreeSpeech is a kind of whimsical experiment in empathy,” Percoco writes. “If we can converse with trees, how will our actions towards them and thoughts about them change? Now that I have started tweeting from its perspective, I pay much more attention to the tree across the street from my apartment. I notice changes, and I’ve started caring for it in small ways.”