project image
Akiko Ichikawa

first performed on December 24, 2019
Lafayette Avenue, between S. Oxford and S. Portland Streets, Brooklyn, NY
performed twice in 2019


Mike Estabrook

Brooklyn, NY


In this piece I aim to address the “someone else will take care of it” mentality in my city, the blindness of my neighbors to ecological basics, the self-perpetuating dominance of Christianity in a supposedly omnist setting, and NYC Parks and Sanitation Departments’ poor communication around their mulching program.

In my first iteration, I approached an area near my apartment I’d seen over the years as the go-to spot for a large number of discarded Christmas trees, despite the availability of mulching drop off two blocks away. I decorated one put out December 24th with ornaments by Mike Estabrook, with whom I’d discussed the action and received approval. Within two days, the tree had been picked clean, one side at a time. Someone also propped the evergreen up against the city parking sign as if to look more appealing to passersby, and the spot continued to be the place where residents of a particular building dumped their trees.

My second iteration involved a larger tree closer to the park, which I covered with the paper ornaments the Parks and Sanitation Departments had made available at farmers markets to advertise their campaign. By the second day, the tree-leaver had flipped over their tree to its unornamented side, which I countered with more of the same and with some recycled gift tags on which I wrote “Mulching drop-off around the corner” and added a smiley face. The tree was apparently hauled away by Sanitation but not before my efforts seemed to have the intended effect: The closest metal tree fence boasts a fresh layer of tree pickings.

I dragged trees to the mulching site (six total, a seventh I left in a tree guard close to the park). I also collected further campaign promotional material and distributed it onto trees in my neighborhood, resulting in those on one block being brought to the mulching site before the campaign’s end on January 11.

Before embarking, I learned from GrowNYC program personnel that it is unknown whether trees left curbside are mulched as promised on the city’s website. What is known, however, is that the city sometimes dumps trash and recyclables into the ocean as it accumulates so much of it. By the end of my actions I also learned the possibility that the chippings themselves may also be dumped into landfills, incinerated, or both if not enough are taken away by residents.