Tree-Feeling Walk and Online Meeting

What do we feel about urban trees? A psychogeographic survey

This event is in two parts:

 First, a walk – together or alone, wherever you are

Then, an online meet-up

The walk

We will be enquiring into:

  • Our symbiosis with trees: that is, the interaction between trees and us, organisms which live in close physical association with each other to the advantage of both
  • Our relationship with them: that is, the way in which we are connected
  • How we cohabit with trees: the state or fact that we live and exist at the same time and in the same place
  • Our co-dependency: how we both need each other, sometimes to the detriment of the other
  • Our reliance: how we depend on or trust in trees and them in us

There is a transcript of the soundcloud walking guide for your Tree-Feeling Walk here and a pdf.

Location: If you are in Edinburgh, you have two options:

You can walk with me at Inverleith Park, Edinburgh (East Gate opposite the Botanic Gardens, Arboretum Place EH3 5PA googlemap coordinates: 55.964412, -3.212967 ///power.factor.trace)

Date: 15 May

Time: 2.30-3.30pm

Book here: Eventbrite

Or you can walk alone, with friends or family

If you are not in Edinburgh, you can also walk alone or organise a group in your urban area and walk with them.

You can choose whether to walk at the same time as we do (walking together in time if not space) or at a time of your own choice before the online meeting.

Age and ability: You can do this walk and the associated activities whatever your age and ability. Please adjust it to fit you and your circumstances. You may need to find a proxy to walk your route for you, directing them to certain trees and talking with them about what you are feeling.

Making a record of your tree-feelings: Throughout this walk you will be encouraged to record your tree-feelings using any medium you want. Please choose the ones you like, or want to experiment with. Further down this page you will find a list of ways to record.

The online meeting

We are part of a tree’s ecosystem. What does the tree offer us? What do we offer it? We will have a conversation about this and refer to our feelings and sensations to do so.

What will the online meeting involve? We will listen, talk to, and share our tree-feelings with each other. We will start with ‘Standing Like a Tree’ a very simple chi gung exercise (2 minutes) to root ourselves and a few moments of sitting quietly to recall our tree-time.  Then we will have a conversation about:

  • Our symbiosis with trees: the interaction between trees and us, organisms which live in close physical association, to the advantage of us both
  • Our relationship with them: the way in which we are connected
  • How we cohabit with trees: the state or fact that we live and exist at the same time and in the same place
  • Our co-dependency: how we both need each other, sometimes to the detriment of the other
  • Our reliance: how we depend on or trust in trees and them in us, how we depend on each other

And then the plan is to draw some conclusions about the value of feelings when it comes to our respect and protection of trees, something to add to the better-known ways of relating to them – counting, describing, naming and classifying.

Date: May 22

Time: 10.30-11.30am

Zoom link: Supplied by Urban Tree Fest

The overall aim of the event is

  • To get up close and cosy with an urban tree or trees
  • To find out whether and why we value them
  • To use our own felt, visceral, bodily experience to do this, rather than information from a book, screen or expert
  • To creatively broaden the remit for collecting data by using a wider variety of methods to find out their effect on us, including our sensual and personal reactions

Please keep all your information, artwork, videos and so on handy or uppermost in your mind so that when we meet online, you can share what you felt and found. We will be talking about what tree or trees you visited and sharing descriptions and images of them, and we will focus specifically on how you felt when you were with it/them.

Ways to record
  • Words – prose, poetry, traditional data collection methods, mind map. You can type on your phone in an email to someone you know or to the whats app or facebook group You can ask someone else to transcribe for you. You can tweet using #Treefeelingwalk and #urbantreefestival
  • Visual images – draw, photograph, paint, sculpt or visually depict in another way. Materials: clay, plasticine, pencil, paints, crayons, chalks, charcoal, paper, canvas
  • Sound – record your feelings and findings on your phone, or say them out loud to the tree or to someone else. If you don’t know where the sound recording app is on your phone, try Tools. Or you can probably download one for free
  • Film – video yourself speaking your feelings and thoughts, or the tree and the sounds around it
  • Dance
  • Music – sing, play a musical instrument, listen to the rhythm inside yourself or the tree and tap or drum it out (you may want to record it)
  • Mapping or GPS record of the route
  • Please note that if you want to collect found materials, please respect the tree and its natural surroundings. Don’t break parts off or remove something that another organism might need and rely on!
What to record

The tree itself: its girth, height and age – You can measure on the spot using a tape measure or a long piece of string/wool/rope that you measure when you get home. You could try pacing around it, measuring with your hands, embracing it and seeing how big the circle you make is (maybe you have to join hands with someone else). If it is tall, stand back and look up, if small stand beside it. Use metaphors! Is it ‘like’ you or someone or something else? For example, as big as a barrel, as tall as a street lamp, as small as your finger, 60 times bigger than you, as tall as that house over there, like a crane…..

Here is a pdf to help you measure and find out the age of trees pdf

The tree’s identification: If you want to know its scientific or vernacular name, you could try the Leafsnap app or other suitable one which can be downloaded onto your phone

Or look in a book. Here is a booklist published by the Tree Council

The Area Tree Composition: Describe the geographical area where your tree is situated – note how many trees there are, how close they are to each other, write their names if you know them or do a drawing of them altogether in a group (eg 2 birch, 4 ash all about 3 paces apart, planted in holes in the pavements outside people’s houses).

Other activities

  • Draw a map of your walk, or download the route and mark or draw the trees on it.
  • In the trunk of the tree(s) you have drawn, note down a feeling that you had while you were there (don’t judge yourself, be instinctive!). Growing on and hanging from the branches, write the thoughts you had while you were there. Here is an example on the webpage.
  • Compile a ‘fact’ sheet of trees in your immediate area using some of the methods above
  • Make a sound walk of your route and upload it to Look for Sound Walk September (the address is on the webpage)
  • And use the hashtags #FeelingTrees #urbantreefestival on twitter or instagram

Please note that if you share photos, images and/or words via social media, I will collect and share some of them for the online meeting. I will ask you first to give me your permission to do so.

Thanks to Ewan Davidson, the Urban Tree Festival and the 2020 contributors and presenters who inspired me, and to i-tree-eco-edinburgh.

Tamsin Grainger

Tamsin Grainger is a writer, bodyworker and walking artist living in Edinburgh. She holds online workshops and events, including On Death and Life, Death Cafes, and Walking and Chinese medicine.