Housing Complex

Cash Shortage Delays Launch of Arboreal Banner Project

Will they ever have a chance to flutter in the breeze? (Lydia DePillis)

Will they ever have a chance to flutter in the breeze? (Lydia DePillis)

For months now, D.C. enviro-types have anticipated the unfurling of 100 tree-themed banners on city streets, as part of the Urban Forest Project—a multi-city art exhibition that started in New York in 2006. In a “metaphor for sustainability,” the banners are displayed on lampposts, and then recycled into tote bags and auctioned off.

D.C.'s version was supposed to roll out this spring, and last night, the Corcoran hosted a preview of the selected banners by local designers. But when the small gallery filled to capacity, DDOT official Alice Kelly announced some sad news: They hadn’t found enough money to actually implement the plan. DDOT had provided seed money to get the project going, but it was supposed to ultimately be a public-private partnership—and the private money never materialized. Even with in-kind contributions and volunteer labor, the project still needs at least $50,000 to get off the ground. It’s not just printing and hanging banners; planners want to achieve maximum awareness through a website, event programming, and moving the banners around through different neighborhoods.

“We don’t want to just put them up and say oh, look at that, wow,” Kelly said.

In theory, some money is generated from the sale of the tote bags, but in New York they only sold for about $100 each—not enough to make a dent.

John Thomas of the Urban Forestry Administration reassured those gathered that the city really wanted to make this happen. “It would send us to another level,” he said of the city’s foresters. “It would bring different people into the tree world that we need.”

Incidentally, the District can still afford real trees—request one from the UFA, and they’ll come plant it for free!

The banners will be on display at the Corcoran’s Gallery 31 through this weekend.

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