Everyone wants to help save the planet, but with the threat of climate change drawing ever closer, it feels impossible for one person to make a difference. To keep our planet healthy for our children and grandchildren, it’s going to take all of us working together. That’s where The Pledging Tree comes in — we want to inspire people to save the planet, one small pledge at a time.

How Does It Work?

The Pledging Tree takes the form of a public art exhibition, in a familiar and well-attended place, such as Boston Common. The tree begins as a bare set of branches, and it’s up to us to add the leaves.

What are the Leaves?

The leaves are pieces of purple cloth, on which people can write pledges to help the environment. Pledges are small actions that each person can take, that together will make a larger difference. Examples can include “I will use my own produce bags,” “I’ll take public transportation instead of Uber or Lyft,” or “I can use a reusable water bottle.”

How do people make a pledge and contribute to the tree?

If someone wants to add a pledge, they can take a piece of cloth from the base of the tree and write their pledge on that. Once someone writes down a pledge, they can tie it to any branch of the tree to help it grow into a beautiful art display!

They can also use the internet-connected scanners at the base of the tree to scan in their pledge. The scanner parses the handwriting, prompts the writer to type in their first name, and uploads the pledge to a website that people can visit from anywhere in the world. Online visitors can explore the interactive tree by selecting different regions of the tree and leaves; they can also show their support for someone’s pledge by “clapping,” or upvoting.

Our hope is for the online component to not only inspire individuals to take action based on other people’s pledges, but also other communities around the world to do something similar with their open spaces!

Link to 3d overhead view: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1REMMuHrnOP3CT56dD2Nn4wgDshZ4ZLsK/view

Link to 3d front view: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1n53Ho1ecCN1bKfXnQT7-7lIdgNeK0pu8/view

Link to static digital mockups: https://www.figma.com/proto/8nEjROsw0InsunE1U69WaH/challenge-3?node-id=41%3A65&scaling=scale-down-width

Why The Pledging Tree?


The tree will be in a public place, immediately attracting attention from passersby. Its visual and artistic beauty will hopefully evoke admiration right off the bat, and draw people in to learn more about the project. Then, as people learn more, we hope they will experience elevation by witnessing others working together to save the planet. This elevation may then inspire them to save the planet as well. Down the line, as more and more people pledge to save the planet, the number of pledges will grow to be awe-inspiring, as people experience the vastness of those pledging to be more environmentally-friendly. The internet component will contribute to the vastness experience, as people from all over the world can see the pledges and start their own trees in their communities.


Research shows that you are 40% more likely to achieve your goal when you write it down, so writing down pledges will make people more likely to follow through with them. Your likeliness of achieving that goal grows even higher when you have someone else rooting for you to do it. With the online component of the tree, people can “clap” for goals, showing people that they’re rooting for them.


A particular goal gaining momentum (more claps) online not only encourages the original author to follow through, but also inspires viewers to also potentially take up the goal. The public nature of the pledges serves as an external stimulus that can motivate people to take action, especially once they see others supporting!


We were inspired by public and private exhibitions that museums and cities have put on display in the past. One particularly fun exhibit we talked about was the NYC Museum of Food and Drink’s Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant. A fortune cookie machine allowed visitors to type up their own fortunes online, which would then get dispersed into various fortune cookies other strangers would receive. Another exhibit, put on by the city of Montreal, shed light on domestic violence by installing a white archway in the middle of a shopping mall, encouraging passersby to contribute to the display by writing what they loved about themselves on strips of pink fabric—collectively, the city was able to create an art piece while simultaneously spreading awareness.

We combined the unique ways in which these two exhibits were executed to guide our own brainstorming. By making the Pledging Tree a visually stunning art piece that’s (literally) rooted in a community and grows as more people interact with it, we ultimately hope to inspire others to think more about their environmental footprint and ways they can live more sustainably. ??

Link to presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/18rCOcLpQWusWSf7gBVIuaEDd3ckBnYqfMxIi1xu9Zzs/edit?usp=sharing

Link to video: https://harvard.zoom.us/rec/play/7pQtdOiuq283GYCX5QSDA6cvW9W5Jv6s2iNN-_AFyRrhV3VVZlegb-QQM-MbZ66zCMzCoSB6GZq_JceE?startTime=1584976626000&_x_zm_rtaid=_17v_rRsQuW7cO-i6ILPWw.1585141685000.d499e7fbc5b116839c0d335f72b19659&_x_zm_rhtaid=296