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Legacy Project
Activity

BE THE TREE

Experience trees in a creative
new way

Next time you walk by a tree, stop and take a close look. What do you notice? How does the tree make you feel? This activity is a chance for you to use your right-brain creative side to understand trees and yourself in a new way. Anyone can Be The Tree – children, teens, adults, and elders. You can do the activity as an individual, or Be The Tree as a group or family.

Be The Tree
Be The Tree
Be The Tree
Be The Tree
Be The Tree
Be The Tree

Before you actually be the tree, try to get a feel for what it's like to be a tree.

Stand up and look into a mirror. Imagine yourself
as a tree planted in the ground with your waist at ground level.

Imagine your legs as tap roots, spreading deep down into the ground and holding you up firmly. Your feet are also roots that keep you standing tall and prevent you from falling. Your toes are root hairs feeling and seeking through the earth to get water and provide further stability.

Above the ground, your stomach and chest are the tree trunk. Within the tree trunk is the heartwood that powers and supports your body. Your arms become limbs reaching outwards toward the sky. Fingers are small limbs and twigs holding your leaves. Leaves supply the food needed for survival and supply the air we all breathe.

Because of the leaves, your head becomes stronger, a crown that can withstand the elements and provide homes for birds and other small creatures.

Your skin is like the tree's bark. The outer bark is like your dry, outer layer of skin. Just beneath that layer is the soft, moist living layer – just like the nerves, blood vessels, and living tissue under human skin. If someone were to cut a limb from the tree, it would be like losing your arm. And, just like you can get a scar from an injury, trees can be scarred by injuries and insect damage.

So maybe people aren't so different from trees afterall!

Now find a tree in your neighborhood that "speaks" to you. You can choose a tree based on how it
looks, its symbolism, or its personal meaning to you.

The idea is to then become or engage with that tree in some expressive way, and take a photo that captures that expression.

You can download a tree sheet from the Legacy Center arboretum that gives you some information about trees and their meanings. Each tree has
its own story and history. For example, the Colorado Spruce is a majestic, festive evergreen. It's a symbol of noble-mindedness. Traits associated with it include dignified, gracious, pleasant, cheerful, tasteful, modest demands, honest and faithful, generous, and practical. The Oak is a strong, long-lived deciduous tree. It's a symbol of wisdom. Traits associated with it include courageous, strong, warm and kind, understanding, reasonable, unrelenting, independent, perceptive, sensible, balanced, takes action, well-developed sense of justice, can be narrowly focused.

The photos on this page are examples from the
Be The Tree experience we offer at the Legacy Center arboretum. As you can see, we have some very creative visitors!

This is a unique, profound way to learn about the natural world and trees. Once you do one tree, challenge yourself to work with other trees. Each time you engage with a tree, it should be a different experience, and express something unique about you and that particular tree.

E-mail us your Be The Tree photo, along with your name, city, what kind of tree it is and why you chose it. We may include your photo in our online Be The Tree gallery!

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

Materials
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Legacy Center Arboretum Trees

Legacy Center
  Arboretum Tree
  Sheet

  (PDF requires
  Adobe Acrobat)

Mirror
Camera

Connections
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Schools
  (environmental
  studies; visual arts;
  science; physical
  education)
Families
Youth groups

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