Winter Buddies: Building a More-than-Human Community for Spring

There are stories to receive from trees that they share only in the in-between time when winter is turning to spring. If we build relations—a practice of stopping, sensing, observing, and engaging—we can hear them. This protocol invites you to emerge from winter slooowly, building a community of relations and exchanges with a tree that incorporates advice and input from your humxn friends. Together, we will nurture a support system of care to shape ourselves for the future we are dreaming.

Follow the prompts below and share the report of your exchanges at the end of March (see an example report here)

This protocol was created in collaboration with EPA guest agent Georgia Silvera Seamans. Some of the concepts animating the process of building the protocol are explored in her article "The Risks and Rewards of Being Black in Nature." 


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Participate: Winter Buddies: Building a More-than-Human Community for Spring

Meet the Tree: Along one of your regular pandemic walks pay attention to the trees. Which tree calls your attention? Maybe you already know the treeit has been calling you for a while.

Ask the tree for their consent to participate: Start by standing far enough from the tree that you can see their entire above-ground height without shifting your head up or down. Count your steps until you are standing face-to-face with the tree. Invite them to be your winter buddy. Standing or moving, observe the tree andwithout premeditating!—let the meeting resonate through your body to bring observations and questions to the surface. Take a photo of the tree before you leave. After the walk, reflect on the experience and record your notes (Winter Buddy Report 1), which you will share with your friends in STEP 2. Upload a photo of your winter buddy tree below and then click Next step.

Building a Remote Tree-Humxn Community

Network: Think of 3-4 friends you would feel comfortable inviting into this relationship. Write a brief invitation to each of them, in which you introduce the tree, share your Winter Buddy Report 1, and ask them for a question(s) and/or physical gesture(s) to bring back to the tree. Encourage the use of sketches, photos, and narrative writing in your exchange. In exchange for their advice, offer to send a report back from the tree. (See an example invitation template here, including language requesting consent to share responses on the website.)

Return and Respond: Once you get a response, bring those question(s) and/or physical gesture(s) back to the tree. Let the relationship expand and take its path. Make Report 2, add it to your growing document, then invite another round of exchange. And so forth. Continue until you and the tree feel winter turn into spring, or until you feel finished.

 Grow an Archive of Experience

Document the exchangeswith the tree and your human interlocutors— chronologically in one file, including the reports, email exchanges, and associated visual materials. Add to the file over time. See an example document with multiple reports and exchanges recorded here (this is just an example, feel free to experiment!)

Sharing the Story

By the end of March upload a photo or screenshot that shows a detail of your final report, and email the original file (pdf preferred) to We will upload your file and link it to the screenshot or image you provided.


  • Jerry Genao Jr
  • Free Spirit Tree of Heaven Kinship, Lenapehoking land, Brooklyn, NY
  • Feeding the soil that feeds ginkgo neighbor, Mohican land, Troy, NY
  • Ceremony American Elm, East River Park (Manahatta, NYC)
  • Georgia from Unceded Munsee Lenape land (Manhattan)
  • Majestic Oak Winter Buddy, Lenapehoking land, Brooklyn, NY
  • Ellie, GB & Weary but Re-charging Ginkgo, Mohican land, Troy, NY

Further action

What is your city's Tree Equity Score

We all deserve to live in close relationship with tree neighbors. But, too often, a map of urban forest cover in any city in the United States correlates to the race and income of the human community. Neighborhoods that are predominantly poor, immigrant, Black and/or brown are also often neighborhoods with less trees. What is it like in your city?


Learn more about the Tree Equity Score

Is your state fighting to control transportation-related emissions?

Global temperatures are on target to rise at least 3°C (5.4 ° F) by 2100. On March 31, 2020, while the country was in lockdown due to the Covid19 pandemic, the US EPA passed a rule relaxing fuel efficiency standards through 2026 (based on spurious science). Transportation related greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise as Americans get on the road again. While Federal agencies fail us, states are fighting to regulate emissions more aggressively. Twenty-two states have sued the EPA.

Is your state one of them?

U.S. EPA is trying to omit vital Public Health Data- Tell them what you think!

In early March 2020, the U.S. EPA announced further amendments to it’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” policy proposal, which has been dubbed the “Censor Science Rule” by the scientific community, as it disqualifies all anonymous medical data – effectively the data that measures the health impact of environmental pollution.  We now know that the respiratory illness caused by Covid19 has brought the unsettling correlation between death rates and the POC and immigrant communities most exposed to environmental pollution further to light. 

ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE PUBLIC COMMENTS: Due to continued pushback on this proposal commenting is extended until May 18th. Visit to give a public comment, search by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OA–2018–0259.

Sent a comment to the US EPA

Don’t let the U.S. EPA get away with using the pandemic as an open license to pollute

Good Air quality is key for both humans and nonhumans alike. On March 26th, 2020, the U.S. EPA released a letter titled “COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program”, announcing that it would not be enforcing its compliance regulations, giving industry a pass to pollute freely during this global health crisis. Former US EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, called it “an open license to pollute.”

TAKE ACTION: Sign the NRDC Petition

How are bird and multispecies communities being impacted by US EPA rollbacks?

This March the U.S. EPA gutted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which now no longer holds individuals or companies (for example real estate companies) accountable for the incidental killing of migratory birds. In New York City, 90,000 birds collide with buildings every year, many of these are migratory birds, as the city is located on a major migratory pathway. One more reason to stand up against massive real estate developments in the city! 

MAKE A PROTEST POSTER FOR YOUR WINDOW! And if you happen to live in a highrise, or any building with glass:

Use this Template to Help the Birds See the Glass

We want real climate justice policy! What Energy Policy would your Street Tree Endorse? 

In 2017 former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a notice proposing a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which requires utilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The rule was replaced in 2019 with the “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule which weakens emissions standards. The U.S. EPA, over the past 4 years, has rolled back over 95 rules put in place to protect environmental health, supporting the interests of the coal, gas, and oil industries, along with Big Agriculture. How has this changed the role and pressure we place on so-called green infrastructure? What kind of energy policy would street trees endorse? Read about the Red New Deal, and A Peoples Climate Plan for NYC.

Read the Peoples Climate Plan for NYC

 Almost ⅔ of Earth’s biodiversity is bacterial. How do we deconstruct and unlearn human supremacy?

The U.S. EPA endorses the use of powerful herbicides and pesticides like glyphosate (Round Up) and chlorpyrifos. In 2019, the U.S. EPA announced that it would not ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that its own experts have linked to serious health problems in children, and farmworkers. Now more than ever our food supply depends on supporting and protecting farmworkers.

Visit Beyond Pesticides to learn more.

Tell Congress to provide essential benefits to essential workers