There is a traditional platform under a tree where elderlies regularly meet to share their stories and their lives stories and sing bhajans (devotional songs) together. I spent a great time interacting with them and learning from their experiences. Especially, I found a spiritual conversation with one of the elderly men in this circle was so insightful.
Usually Banks, corporate houses fund these tree guards and use them for self-promotions. When I approached banks They asked whether the land is centrally located for their ads to be visible. I decided not to seek funding from them. To humanize the public spaces, I designed a tree guard and asked people to send their stories, personal experiences, poetry, or dedications to their loved or lost ones.
Space was being created, with individual people donating the funds for trees to be planted and also for the tree guards (That I designed) The tree guards included a poem, a message to the loved or lost ones where – in lieu of where one might commonly find the advertising plaque of a local business. We invited the communities to invest, contribute, and collaborate so that these spaces are conserved and a sense of ownership prevails among all. It weaves the interrelationship between the piece, the people, and the place, making tree plantation appealing and connecting people to their environment.
To quote Senge Drayang (Westin Harris)"It challenges the notion of what it means to be performance art. From a human perspective, we tend to see performance art as something consumable something. We can sacrifice a reasonable amount of our time in order to watch, get our good feelings and then we leave. But when we plant a tree and look at it less on a human scale and more on a geological scale of time – A tree is performing as well. It starts from seed or from saplings regardless of the starting phase there is a whole series of multi-movement performance that is played out over geological time. This juxtaposition of the slow performance of the tree vs the relatively short life span of a human being is sort of embodied in this social sculpture. After 3- 5 years, the tree guards will be pulled way in a similar way the human life is short in relation to the slow performance of the tree in geological time. It looks at ecological motion as performance"
Though I got verbal support from the ward officials, we had to start our work with very limited resources. Until the last minute, there were no volunteers and tools to do the work. I made phone calls and called some friends to help us Prabal, left his workplace, and arrived seeing my Facebook status. Mahatma, arranged everything in a short time. I had contacted one of the ward representatives of Boudha but he said we will come to inspect and then leave. I asked - Won't you stay and help us to clean up space? He said no - it’s not our job to do the cleaning. I texted him. No need to come if you are just a spectator. We need people who are ready to work. When they arrived when we had already started digging the ground. Some new faces started giving instructions. I am open to suggestions but I had never seen them in the planning phases process. I said. Don't talk. Come here and work. That word bothered someone and it took a different turn. It could have escalated. I calmed myself and responded mindfully. We then came to mutual understanding. At this moment the chief of the ward picked up the tool and started digging and everyone joined him. The person who had said, it’s not our duty is not to clean up, pulled his sleeves, and started working.
There were some heated discussions in the beginning but there occurred other beautiful moments - like the elderly citizens and sisters from the community became excited thankful and joined hands to complete the task
Please do not comment on anything negative or criticize the first paragraphs. We can't expect to do everything right initially. This is how we learn and grow. It is easy to comment. Come and dedicate your time and energy. ( from my Facebook post )
When there was no budget allocated for this work I formed a team with a group of concerned citizens who helped in raising funds and resources to take this project on the ground. Relying on the government to find the funding would likely lead to it never happening at all. It is both conservation and activism within the context of art that focuses on greening the barren lands with community participation on many levels. Youth groups, sports clubs were consulted from the planning process to find out the level of support that can be expected from community members this is how the project “Green Spaces; A Love Letter to the City “started.