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Pop-up parks: rooting for the community

Projects | September 1, 2013 | By:

Coshocton is a mid-Ohio city of approximately 11,000 people with a restored village located next to the former Ohio and Erie Canal. In response to a local committee’s concern about the city’s deteriorating urban forest, the local Pomerene Center for the Arts and its partners came up with a new concept: Root Ball parks. These consist of 19 trees that will be installed at four public high schools and in a downtown lot left after an iconic hotel burned down. What makes the trees special is that their root balls include beanbag seating—and can be transported to “pop up” in other parts of the community.

The Root Balls use mesh bags made from material supplied by Snyder Manufacturing Inc., Dover, Ohio. Inside the mesh bag are a pallet for the root ball, wrapped in burlap, and a wire basket inside another wire basket packed with mulch. The idea originated with VAMOS Architects of Brooklyn, N.Y., who had sourced the vinyl-coated mesh from Snyder Mfg. When Pomerene’s team picked up the architects at the airport, they simply stopped at Snyder to pick up the material.

Tree types include zelkovas, ginkos, hedge maples, hackberries and willow oak, all of which can tolerate urban spaces, drought and the stress of moving. Sandbags provide stability for the trees, and the oversized beanbags provide comfortable seating for people to use while meeting and greeting neighbors. “Art is about putting things in unexpected places and creating a different reality,” says Anne Cornell from the Pomerene Center. “We will have seating and programming at the Root Ball Parks and hopefully [will] give people new and different ways to come together.” For more information, visit Pomerene Center for the Arts.

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