The project to renovate and expand the Nature Center building in 2003 required the removal of one declining 95-year-old red oak tree. In keeping with our philosophy of conservation we decided to raise awareness of the many possible uses of one tree. Before removing the tree, we established the "One Tree" project. We committed to salvaging all living parts of the tree and using them as fully as possible. In June 2002 the tree was taken down and milled on-site. All milled lumber was taken to a solar kiln and dried over the summer. The un-milled green wood was stored in the parking lot. We put out a call for volunteer artisans to craft creative objects both functional and purely artistic from the wood. More than 50 people have contributed to the project, either as part of a group effort or as individuals. The result produced close to 50 items ranging from the oak-trimmed reception desk to benches, bowls, walking sticks and a variety of other objects.
In a Phase Two of the project we received an Ohio Arts Council Grant to work with middle school students at Caledonia School during the summer to build wooden drums from the One Tree wood and to learn how to play them. We worked with Tom Heffernan, NCSL member and woodworker to prepare the rough cut wood for the drums. The students spent several weeks putting the drums together. Local musician Adetobi taught the students the history of the Afro-Cuban drums and how to play them. Also as part of the project we collaborated with Passport Project, a local neighborhood arts organization. They incorporated a workshop on building wooden musical instruments using the One Tree wood. At the end of the project a celebration was held at the Nature Center featuring the students of Caledonia and Passport Project playing the drums and other instruments they had built -- accompanying dancers from Passport Project.
The beauty and variety of the pieces crafted in both phases of the project are a testament to the creative efforts of all who participated and to the bounty we receive from just one tree.