July 5, 2012 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Guerrilla gardens, including mobile gardens, are really a kind of pop-up with a message. For the town of Bristol’s Big Green Week, local residents created a pop-up Mobile Forest consisting of a fleet of a few dozen shopping carts planted with young trees. Created in Dundry View (Bishopsworth, Hartcliffe and Whitchurch Park Wards), the Mobile Forest then moved into the city center via a procession on the opening day of the Festival of Nature.
Placed at different locations across the city center, the planted carts instantly transformed cold or neglected urban public spaces into inviting green oases and offered the public a moment to relax and view the city in a different, greener, way.
Jointly organized by Forum for the Future, Bristol Natural History Consortium, Bristol Green Capital, and supported by Bristol City Council, the Mobile Forest was guided by a team of “Forest Guardians” who helped engage the public and ensure the installation’s safe use.
Why the Mobile Forest?
Bristol BIG Green Week aimed “to sow seeds of change and inspire greener ways of living.” The living, growing, mobile green hub was created to provide a practical demonstration of what a greener future could mean and to stimulate debate about a number of important issues, including:
• What is the value of trees and forests to people’s health and happiness, especially in cities where they are often in short supply?
• What kinds of small interventions can have the biggest impact on making our cities feel and look greener?
• How can engaging in green issues be made light-touch and playful?
Bristol’s Mobile Forest has some ancestors. For Amsterdam’s Urban Play Festival in 2008, NL Architects created a Moving Forest, above, of 100 trees planted in 100 shopping carts which blocked pedestrian traffic and forced passers by to interact with them.
After the festival, the Mobile Forest returned to Hartcliffe for planting in community projects.