Jun 30, 2015

About Trees, edited by Katie Holten

I am so excited about Katie Holten's new book, About Trees. I pre-ordered a copy. You too can pre-order a copy of About Trees at Broken Dimanche Press (BDP). If you pre-order by Wednesday, July 1st, your name will be included in the book as an early supporter.

Also, to celebrate Katie's residency, BDP is offering pre-sale copies of About Trees with free world-wide shipping and a set of bookmarks. They also have some new drawings and prints available. All proceeds go towards production costs. The book will be released in the USA September 18-20, 2015.

More about the book:
About Trees is an artist book by Katie Holten. It will be the first book in BDP's new series: Parapoetics - a Literature beyond the Human. Holten has created an alphabet from her tree drawings and made a new typeface called Trees. Registering a crisis of representation, About Trees considers our relationship with language, nature, information, drawing, ecology, memory, systems, and time in the Anthropocene.

Texts by Jorge Luis Borges, Inger Christensen, William Corwin, Charles Darwin, Nicole Davi, Tacita Dean, Brian Enquist, Amy Franceschini, Charles Gaines, James Gleick, Fritz Haeg, Amy Harmon, Natalie Jeremijenko, Eduardo Kohn, Elizabeth Kolbert, Irene Kopelman, Ursual K. Le Guin, Ada Lovelace, Robert Macfarlane, E.J. McAdams, Arianna Occhipinti, Katie Paterson, Thomas Princen, Pedro Reyes, Robert Sullivan, Rachel Sussman, Nicola Twilley, Gaia Vince, Aengus Woods, and others.

Jun 25, 2015

Tree Story Game

I am pleased to share with you this interview with Darcy Troy Pollack of Zig Zag Zoom. I reached out to Darcy after reading about the release of Tree Story, a mobile game that combines virtual tree care and on-the-ground tree planting. We've played the game; it's fun! Download Tree Story from iTunes. It will be available for Droids next month.

Can you provide a brief bio? What was your experience with the app/game space - if any - before engaging with the Tree Story game?

Believe it or not, I had no experience with apps or games prior to joining Zig Zag Zoom!  I started my career in investment banking, then spent some years in the film and location-based entertainment businesses, finally ending up as a consultant to early stage start ups.  I was a consultant when Z3 found me, but I fell in love with the idea of planting trees through its fun mobile game Tree Story… and then with the broader idea of "changing the world one game at a time”… For anyone who would like to know more, they can check out treestorygame.com for the game and zigzagzoom.com for the company.

What was the impetus for developing Tree Story? And which came first - Zig Zag Zoom or Tree Story?

Actually the inspiration for Tree Story was a mobile game in South Korea called Tree Planet.  Tree Planet was created by three friends who wanted to address the deforestation and desertification they saw in Asia.  The game became a social hit in Korea, where players have planted nearly a billion virtual “trees” … which has translated to over half a million REAL trees in ten countries!  Tree Planet’s creators are our partners in Tree Story, and they were also the inspiration for our company’s double bottom line mission: "Have Fun. Do Good.”  

Can you describe the development process? Approaching and securing partners? Funding? Staffing an app company?

This is a tough question to answer!  Each game is different… sometimes we have a great game, like Tree Story, and we look for partners who are a good fit.  For example, our partners in Tree Story are the US Forest Service, Arbor Day Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Project Learning Tree and Alliance for Community Trees. But with other games, we may identify the partner first and develop a game specifically for them.  We have a couple of amazing partners that fit into this category… but I can’t tell you about them yet!  We have been fortunate to have had introductions to best—in-class organizations.  The strength and talent of our team, who almost all come from Disney Interactive, have helped to bring those partners on board.

How many trees have been planted since the launch of the app?

Thus far we have planted 11 groves or forests all across the country -- from a school planting in Washington DC to wildlife habitat reforestation in Michigan to a fruit tree planting in Portland. And we have lots more coming, including international plantings in places like Brazil!

There's been a recent update to the game. Can you talk  about the new features? What was the decision-making  process behind these features? Were they incorporated based on user feedback, for example?

Like any good mobile game, there are continual updates of content for players, and Tree Story is no exception. We have many updates to the game that we have added since its launch in April. These updates include:

Screenshot sharing: Players can show their friends screenshots of their adorable trees!
Taking care of planted trees: Players can now continue to groom and play with Treelings already planted in The Grove.
Flappy Seed: Players can navigate a flying seedling through the forest to earn extra in-game currency. Great for players looking for more of a challenge.
New vanity items are available for purchase.

We will also be adding new mini-games, more clothes and other items to choose for your trees, new Groves for your trees, and much, much more. But the biggest news is come July Android players will be able to play Tree Story as well.

Are  there other Zig Zag Zoom apps in the works? Will they have an environmental focus?

YES!  We have over a half dozen additional games slated for the next six to nine months.  Some are environmental, but others address issues like fighting poverty and saving endangered species.  We also are launching a platform called mobiliz3 that will allow players to accumulate mobiliz3 points by playing a variety of mobile games, not just Zig Zag Zoom games. Much like earning frequent flyer miles, these mobiliz3 points can be allocated to causes the player cares about… and that translates to real dollars for those causes!  Look for that soon!  

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us about Tree Story and Zig Zag Zoom, Darcy. 

Jun 23, 2015

Mapping Street Trees with the Washington Square Tree Counters

One training and one mapping event down, one mapping event to go.

At the end of last Saturday's training event, Washington Square Tree Counters had mapped 14.9% of our census area. By the end of Monday's mapping event, we had mapped 42.5% of our census area and counted 570 trees! Thank you to TreesCount! Team and the volunteers who are made this happen! During Monday's mapping event, NYC Parks staff Justin and Keenan mapped the street trees surrounding the park.

We have high hopes for tomorrow night's mapping event. We would be pleasantly surprised to reach 100% of goal so we are talking about hosting another mapping event. Stay tuned.

Jun 12, 2015

Short Stack: Picture Books about Dogs

Besides pigeons and squirrels, one of the most common animals in our city is the dog, at least in our neighborhood. Lately, we have been hanging outside the dog run for small dogs in Washington Square Park, a lot. One of us is intrigued by dogs, big and small, but dog watching is easier at the dog run for small dogs.

Here are some picture books we have been reading to complement our happenstance dog sightings and purposeful dog-watching.

The National Geographic Kids Everything series is encyclopedic; a great resource. The Dog volume does not disappoint. The photographs and graphics are appealing to young children (and adults, too).

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion with pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham is a classic picture book though it's taken us more than five years to finally read it! The story is funny and Harry is not quite unlike a young child.

I am a big fan of the Ladybug Girl books by David Soman and Jacky Davis. Ladybug Girl is curious and adventuresome and her sidekick is her dog, Bingo. In this particular book, Ladybug Girl and her family go camping. She goes hiking and boating on a lake, but the real adventure happens in the forest.

This last book is not about dogs but I couldn't resist borrowing it, too. Animal Supermarket by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, and translated by Laura Watkinson is a clever take on grocery shopping if you are an animal. Snails arrive early to select the best greens, foxes steal chickens, and polar bears shop for cod, cuttlefish, and squid. The frozen section was replaced by a meadow of poppies, bluebells, and violets; you can find the bees there.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any dog-themed picture books to recommend?

Jun 10, 2015

Trees in Bloom in Washington Square Park

Most of the showy flowering trees such as cherries and crabapples have already spent their blossoms, but there are still several species blooming now. You can find the Northern catalpa, hawthorn (not pictured), and tree lilac in Washington Square Park.

A photo posted by Wash Sq Park Eco Projects (@wspecoprojects) on

Jun 8, 2015

TreesCount! 2015 in Washington Square

Image: TreesCount! 2015 homepage (screen capture)

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the 10 Most Common Street Trees in NYC. The data on which the post is based was taken from the 2005 Street Tree Census. Ten years ago I did not live in New York so I could not participate in the tree inventory. Did you? Luckily for me, the census is being held again this year.

Join me and co-trainer Annie in mapping the street trees in a 50-block area around Washington Square Park!

We will host three events with NYC Parks this month. The first is a Training on Saturday, June 20, 10 am -1 pm. The second and third events are Mappings on Monday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 24, 5:30 - 8:30 pm. The meeting spot for all three events is the southeast corner of LaGuardia Place and West Third Street.

Join the Counter Culture and register for events at https://treescount.nycgovparks.org.

May 28, 2015

Update: Eco Map of Washington Square Park at the World Science Festival 2015

World Science Festival 2015 culminates in Washington Square Park on Sunday, May 31. Washington Square Park (WSP) Eco Projects is collaborating with SciStarter to log the nature observations people make in the park on May 31. SciStarter has formally partnered with Discover Magazine and the Science Cheerleaders to help park visitors observe and share wildlife sightings with researchers. SciStarter was founded by Darlene Cavalier and is a platform to "find, join, and contribute to science through recreational activities and citizen science research projects."

To jumpstart your citizen science foray into the park, download the WSP Nature Finds map. We've marked the locations of six iconic, unusual, and common trees, popular places to see pigeons and squirrels, and a spot to look up to see the red-tailed hawk nest. One location that's not on the map is the spot where we observed the Cecropia moth. Look at the base of the fence posts near the crabapple tree growing across from the "big-kid" playground. Then use the WSP Nature Finds data collection tool on SciStarter to record your tree and wildlife sightings. 

Share your photos throughout the day on May 31 with #wspnaturefinds, #scistarter and #WSF15. Tag @wspecoprojects, too!

You can chat with WSP Eco Projects about the Eco Map and future eco-learning events at the SciStarter table on the Main Stage (Garibladi Plaza) at 1:30 p.m. on May 31.