In September, 2016, the Climate Ribbon team was invited to a gathering of climate movers and shakers in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. People had seen the Tree at the COP21 in Paris and had been deeply moved, and wanted to share it with participants from all over the country who were coming to this event. We decided to use this opportunity to experiment with a different kind of Tree. We wanted it to be beautiful, of course, but also portable, affordable, and easy to install and disassemble — not just for us, but as a model for others to do it in a DIY way going forward.
How to build a Climate Ribbon Tree from a garden trellis and natural materials (in 7 easy steps):
- Tree branches, some with leaves
- Writing surface/table
- Clipboards (optional)
- Table cloth (optional)
Set the base: Buy and assemble a trellis. We found an inexpensive three-leg trellis online (here’s an example). It was metal and a little tacky, but the garden designs disappeared once we added the wood.
Gather natural materials: Reflect on the natural ecosystem around you. What kind of trees grow where you live — redwoods, birch trees, palms? What natural debris can be repurposed without harming living plants? We built our tree sculpture in the fall in the small town of Nederland, Colorado. The Rocky Mountains were afire with crimson and yellow aspens. We scavenged fallen tree trunks and branches from the mountains, and harvested some bright yellow leaves & branches. Our most useful tree trunks and branches were tall and narrow, not too heavy, but capable of covering large swathes of the metal trellis legs.
Build the trunk: Use twine to tie branches onto the legs of the trellis. For elegance, choose a uniform number of times to encircle the branches, or a set height to make ties. You may wish to just cover the outsides of the trellis, or to cover the insides as well.
Tie the top: Tie on smaller branches that have leaves or needles to make the tree top.
Secure the structure: After adding the wood pieces, the trellis will be much heavier. For stability, you can add rocks/small boulders at the base, both inside and out, to make the feet of the trellis base more secure.
Add ribbon lines: Cut string the width of the space between each trellis leg and tie the segments from leg to leg in uniform rows.
Set the table: Set up a table with a basket of blank ribbons, cut to about 18 inches, and pens (Bic or ballpoint work best, not Sharpies). You can add clipboards which make it easier for people to secure ribbons for writing. Make a sign with the Climate Ribbon instructions, something like this:
The Climate Ribbon
What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?
Write your answer, add your name, age, and hometown
Tie your ribbon to the tree
Take someone else’s ribbon
Become the guardian of another person’s story and commit to act for climate justice.
Interact: Invite people to make ribbons, tie them to the tree, and take someone else’s ribbon home with them. Or facilitate a ribbon exchange ritual. Download our DIY ritual kit.
Share: Send a photo to share your Climate Ribbon tree story with us. We’d love to share your Tree as a blog post or on our social media. Send your photo or story to firstname.lastname@example.org or @climateribbon.