What is ephemeral art? How can art and nature bring people together? Where can you find art in nature?
These questions were explored at Build, Create, & Restore, a recent event in Redwood Regional Park hosted by Zach Pine, environmental artist, and the East Bay Regional Parks District. All 14 Richmond High Earth Team had the chance to attend this event and they had a great time! The day was centered around the “Create-With-Nature Pathway”, which is a section of trail at Redwood Regional Park where the public can partake in making art with nature.
Along the sides of the pathway are areas partitioned off by logs for people to create art in. The purpose is not to create lasting works, but rather “ephemeral”, or short-lived, art. Not only does this allow people to show their creativity and enjoy the beauty of the redwood forest, but it also brings people together and can be a therapeutic activity.
The first part of the day was spent restoring the pathway. The pathways are lined with logs, and these logs eventually rot away to the point that they should be replaced. The students were mixed together with other community members attending the event and split into teams. The teams worked to find the right sized fresh logs to replace the old ones; some were so large that a special tool was needed to carry them. Shallow dips were dug in the ground so that the logs could fit snugly along the path.
After restoring the pathway’s borders and eating a quick lunch, Zach invited the group to try their hand at creating some of their own pieces of art. Most people worked in small groups to create whatever came to mind. To wrap up the experience, everyone in attendance worked on a few projects together, culminating in a bird’s nest, a multi-room log cabin, and a free-form piece with no concrete subject. The Richmond High interns were happy to do something a bit different than the norm and had a ton of fun! Here are what one intern had to say about the experience:
I really liked our outing to redwood Regional Park on Saturday. I had never been there before and I thought it was really pretty. I liked being able to interact with other people in a setting where technology isn’t a distraction. It was nice to just get to appreciate the nature and people around us. I also liked the art making because it was a judgement free zone where we could create something without it having to mean anything or even be good So it was very interesting getting to create art and music with others.
-Valeria Rocha, Richmond High intern
Interested in environmental art? Click here to check out Zach Pine’s website.
Interested in checking out the trail?? Click here for more info.
As 2017 came to a close, interns at Richmond High took some time to reflect on their experience with Earth Team thus far. From litter clean ups and murals to planting trees, the team had a lot to accomplish. Here are what some interns had to say:
So far in the first semester it has been fun. Being able to go and do tree inventory, cleaning up local parks and educating others on environmental issues makes me feel accomplished. Knowing that I am helping out my community in some way, shape or form makes me feel that I am actually doing something to better my community. Being an intern has helped me improve on my teamwork skills since you have to be able to work with others. So far I have learned how to plant trees and plants and how to distinguish different trees by their leaves. Overall Earth Team has been a learning experience and I can’t wait till next semester.
-Erika Gonzalez, Richmond High Intern
I was one of the Earth team interns who joined this internship a couple weeks late and it was honestly one of the best experiences. I learned and met a lot of new people that I didn’t know or talk to before. I don’t really think it affected me in a bad way other than the fact that I just had to learn how to manage my time. Then again, having to manage my time is something I’ve gotten used to which wasn’t really a problem for me. I learned a lot from being in earth team. One of the many things that will always stick to me is how careful one has to be when planting, caring, and looking over a tree. It’s not as easy as you may think. It’s so much more than just digging a hole and placing it then covering that hole back up. You have to measure it precisely to the right amount, place it in the right way and look after it even after you’ve planted it. It made my semester a lot more stressful because sometimes I couldn’t attend a couple either after school meetings or weekend due to family issues but I had to figure out a way to because I didn’t want to miss an event/meeting. I always figured it out.
-Cynthia Mendoza, Richmond High Intern
This is my second year with Earth Team and it was been a great experience. I got to meet new people and plant a lot of trees. I get to go to events to help our community and have hands on experience to plant a tree. We get to learn a lot about climate change and ways to improve it. I get excited when I talk about the events we have done and share how fun it is to be part of earth team. Even though it may be fun to be part of Earth Team, you have to dedicate your time to it. I’m committed to earth Team and glad to be learning more about our environment. We learned about getting to know how old the tree is to learning how climate climate change is affecting everything. With temperatures rising, sea level rising, ocean acidification, ice caps are melting and etc. Earth Team gave me a chance to be out of my home and actually learn something.
-Mariana Mendez, Richmond High Intern
As the Richmond High Campus Coordinator, I have seen all our interns tackle challenges head on and quickly learn and grow while having fun at the same time. I am proud and happy to be working with them and we look forward to an excellent 2018!
Near the end of 2017, the tree planting sites at Wanlass Park were overrun by weeds and in need of some attention. This prompted our Richmond High intern group to dedicate a meeting to site maintenance and also use the opportunity to collect some important inventory data. Unfortunately is was raining, but that didn’t stop our team! Donning ponchos, they worked hard (and got dirty!).
Let’s start with maintenance – good old fashioned yard work. Most of the trees planted last year had no more mulch around them, and with all the rain we got, weeds and grasses were crowding the trunks of the trees. Other issues included broken ties, loose stakes, or ties hammered on incorrectly. Working in teams, the students were assigned several trees/planting sites to correct issues at. Each planting site was weeded, re-mulched, and the stakes and ties checked for tautness. The work was messy but rewarding and got the park looking much better!
Other students had a much less messy task – tree inventory. Tree inventories are systems used to keep track of tree data and are used in city management, forestry, and utility work (to name a few). For our inventory, Earth Team uses Open Tree Map, an online tool and app that allows for easy tree inventory. One of the more useful features of Open Tree Map is that it uses the entered data to calculate environmental benefits of each tree.
To conduct the inventory, students were given maps, iPads, and measuring tapes. Trees planted in Fall 2017 were not recorded on the map yet, so all of the following data needed to be entered: species, GPS location, trunk diameter, and a picture. The interns were able to collect and record the data using the app on the iPads. Trees planted in previous years were already on the map, so all they needed was an update on their diameter and picture.
Overall, the day was fun and informative. Many interns had never done yard work or collected data on trees before. Despite the rain their spirits were kept up as they tended the trees and interacted with nature. Until next time –
After getting a first taste of all the hard work that goes into tree planting in October, Richmond High interns stepped up to be leaders at Wanlass for their November tree planting event. Over 20 volunteers showed up, including Alhambra High School’s Earth Team interns and several students from U.C. Berkeley. Although the number of attendees was daunting, the team did a great job of instructing the volunteers and providing support throughout the day.
Our interns kicked off the event with an icebreaker: the human knot! After this fun and close quarters activity, the team instructed the group on proper tree planting procedure. Each person had a different task to cover, from how to dig a hole to the proper way to stake a tree. After they finished planting an example tree, the volunteers were split into several groups and assigned a planting site and tree.
Throughout the day, Richmond High interns did an amazing job walking among the volunteer groups and answering questions, checking work, and providing any needed assistance. They thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work with other Earth Team interns and the college students.
By the end of the day, the volunteers had managed to plant a total of 11 trees! It was a hard day of work complemented by laughter and new connections; and as always, the day was finished off by loads of PIZZA! We hope to use this day as a practice run for a larger community event in the spring: stay tuned!