After the derecho hit Iowa on August 10th, 2020, the community was devastated, but everyone soon came together to recover, clean up, and donate to the less fortunate. Cedar Rapids alone lost twenty three thousand trees, over half of its tree canopy. A team of Iowa BIG students had the idea to create a project that would tackle this issue and create a sense of community during these tough times. They wanted a way to help their town recover from such a large tragedy that affected so many people.
The team, called Splinters, have invited chainsaw artists from around Iowa to come to Marion Square between Saturday, November 14th and Friday, November 20th, to carve art out of the trees that were ravaged by the storm. From Monday, November 23rd until Sunday, November 29, the art pieces will be auctioned off on the website 32auctions. November 29 is Marion’s Artist Sunday celebration. Sixty percent of the proceeds will be donated to Trees Forever, an organization dedicated to replanting the trees lost to the derecho. Forty percent of the proceeds will go back to the artists. As the art is being made, people are free to walk or drive by Marion Square to see the progress, but the main area will be cordoned off for safety. Anyone entering Marion Square will be required to wear a mask.
“I applaud the Iowa BIG students for this initiative,” says Nick AbouAssaly, the mayor of Marion. “Their investment in Marion’s long-term recovery is heartwarming and impactful. Future generations will enjoy the benefits of their efforts through beautiful art and beautiful trees. This project is commUNITY in action!”
This project was created when Leah Ahlers had the idea to create a plan for these lost trees and raise money for charity at the same time. She got a group of hardworking Iowa BIG students together to help her accomplish this plan for these lost trees. These students are Connor French, Ella Schultz, Emma Gerlach, Lindsay Radack, and Lexi King under the advisory of Mark Matson.
For updates, join the Facebook group “Splinters - Iowa Tree Art Auction.” If you aren’t interested in purchasing an art piece, a Venmo will be linked on the Facebook page for donations.