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Trees Talk to Me

Ever talk to a tree?  “Talk Tree to Me” is a project that uses interactive chatbot technology to engage people in conversations with trees in their neighborhood.   Twelve residents from diverse backgrounds were paired with a collection of 12 trees along the Detroit waterfront to become the voices and personalities for the trees. Through a series of 30-minute interviews, these residents formulated the questions and set the topics their respective tree would discuss with the public via text message. People interacted with the trees via an automated chatbot on their cell phone.

The project lasted one month, September 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic.  210 individuals exchanged nearly 4000 text messages with the trees. The ideas, thoughts and insights shared in these conversations presented an opportunity to understand more about how residents feel about the trees in their communities and how their lives were being transformed by the epidemic.  The conversations were posted on the project’s website and presented at a community tree-distribution event. 

Talk Tree to Me was developed by Spackman Mossop Michaels, a landscape architecture firm, as their contribution to Detroit’s annual Month of Design event which celebrates design in the city each September.  The project received an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.  Click here to learn more.