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When I was a kid, no, well into adulthood, I’ve loved climbing trees. Always fascinated with architecture, trees are a sort of natural skyscrapers and a forest is nature’s downtown. A campaign launched by TreesLouisville seeks to bring that joy of playing in and around trees to students at Maupin Elementary School’s Early Childhood Development Center in the Parkland neighborhood by relocating a 35-year-old climbing tree to the school grounds.

The Contorted European Beech tree. (Courtesy TreesLouisville)
The Contorted European Beech tree. (Courtesy TreesLouisville)

The Contorted European Beech tree might not tower as high as the Oaks on Eastern Parkway at only 15 feet tall, but it does feature a 25-foot-wide canopy and plenty of twisting limbs to help youngsters develop spatial reasoning, mapping, and planning skills. The tree has reached its top height, but TreesLouisville says it will continue to expand outward over time.

 

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched for the project on IOBY, a Brooklyn-based platform that stands for In Our Back Yard.

Kids playing in a tree. (Courtesy TreesLouisville)
Kids playing in a tree. (Courtesy TreesLouisville)

“We hope to raise the full cost for the project with enough time left to move and re-plant the tree during the spring 2016 planting season, before school is out for the summer,” the group states on its IOBY page.

The group continues:

You are likely aware of the physical benefits of a climbing tree—grasping, pulling, pushing and reaching—assisting large and small muscle development. However, there is also a lot going on cognitively when kids are climbing trees—mapping, planning, divergent thinking and spatial reasoning. Added to these benefits are some emotional capacities that are strengthened as kids take risks, push limits and build resiliency. While climbing, children achieve self-satisfaction and a feeling of success. Kids are literally ‘climbing to new heights’ and often facing fears. Success is a key emotional experience we want kids to have, as it drives motivation and willingness to take on challenges. Social skills development through cooperation and collaboration are also benefits.

 

The tree would be located within a fenced in playground at the school on Catalpa Street.

Maupin Elementary from Catalpa Street. (Courtesy Google)
Maupin Elementary from Catalpa Street. (Courtesy Google)

The idea for crowdfunding the play tree came from Mayor Greg Fischer, TreesLouisville said on its Facebook page. The campaign has a March 31 deadline to raise the $25,621 needed for the project. As of this publishing, $6,340 has been contributed.

To learn more about the project and to contribute funds, head on over to this IOBY page. TreesLouisville is “an initiative formed to help reduce our city’s heat island by increasing the tree canopy in targeted areas of greatest need,” according to its website.

 

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Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

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