The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) is the recipient of a project grant of almost $480,000, 20% of which is designated as general operating support, from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) to lead sTREEt Work. This socially-engaged, participatory arts project is designed to explore the wonder and value of trees and the urban forest, with a strong focus on understanding barriers to increasing tree canopy coverage in low canopy Philadelphia neighborhoods. The community-driven and creatively-inspired project will culminate in a public art installation at Awbury Arboretum in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. The installation will be complemented by a series of public events that will raise awareness of how trees can benefit urban communities, by combating the effects of climate change and improving air quality in communities experiencing environmental inequities. The sTREEt Work installation is scheduled to be available to visitors in Spring 2023.
Increasing Philadelphia’s urban forest is an urgent concern, especially for those living in Philadelphia’s most underserved communities, where the temperatures on summer days can be well over 10 degrees hotter than in higher income neighborhoods. PHS will work with curator Marina McDougall and art and design collective Futurefarmers to develop tree tours, hands-on workshops, and film screenings that spark conversations around barriers to trees, the need for more equitable canopy cover across neighborhoods, and ultimately to motivate public participation in tree planting throughout Philadelphia. Awbury Arboretum in East Germantown will serve as the site for sculptural work and as a main hub for the project, with additional community gathering sites located throughout the city.
“The Pew Center’s grant for sTREEt Work provides a meaningful path for PHS to better engage broad and varied audiences throughout the Greater Philadelphia region, to connect horticulture to their daily lives, to bring attention to our existing tree planting and maintenance work, and to increase volunteer efforts to mitigate the extremely critical status of the tree canopy within our area,” said Matt Rader, PHS President. “This project allows us to bring together a unique combination of art, education, horticulture, and beauty, resulting in the ability to advance the health and well-being for thousands of people in and around Philadelphia.”
The Center’s project grants are awarded to cultural institutions in amounts up to $400,000 (plus 20% in additional unrestricted general operating support). The sTREEt Work project is a three-year effort to build awareness around horticulture, the urban forest, and environmental inequities, providing new ways to engage communities through art and culture, urban ecology and design.