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Example Grant Application - poeTree
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Project Name: poeTree

Project Rating: G - Family Friendly

Project Description:

Money might not grow on trees, but at Apogaea this year, poems can!

On the way up the hill to Banana Camp, after taking a turn on the slides at Fucking Unicorns, you see a brightly colored flower at the edge of the path, and a sign with the first lines of a poem that beckons you to discover “poeTree.”  More flowers and poetry-lined signs lead you on a pleasant journey to a brightly colored tree, its trunk surrounded by a circular, roomy, cushioned bench.  You hear enhanced sounds of the forest coming from a central speaker, which intensifies the piece’s “beacon” effect (once in range; this sound won’t be loud).

Emerging from the path, you take a seat.  Looking up, you notice more of the brightly colored flowers from the path “blooming” on the tree.  Putting one to your ear, which easily reaches you in your seated position, you may hear a grandfather reading a poem about masculinity for his grandson, a friend reading a poem of forgiveness, or a child giving Shel Silverstein a spin.

You can listen as long or as little as you like.  The poems loop on 4 separate tracks, through at least 8 different “blooms.”  You may hear the same poems again if you’re patient, but you’ll find plenty of variety, too.  Recited poetry is being sourced from diverse groups (age, economic background, ethnicity) and on a variety of topics to ensure a diversity of core poetic types and concepts.  All denizens of Apogaea can find a poem that speaks directly to their experience or emotional core.

The best love poem you’ve ever heard emerges from the bloom.  You reflect on your lover and the love you share.  Then, a poem prompts reflection on your defense mechanisms and overcoming them.  Finally, you hear a poem about the earth that has you swearing you’ll finally start that compost bin.  You remove the poetry-spouting bloom momentarily to bask in the immediate experience of being in nature, of being with yourself and with these poems.  You fear you’ll never hear these amazing poems again.  Fear not, for our installation’s stickers offer a Mixcloud address, where you will find every poeTree poem archived. These will be housed in a small chest of drawers.  Inside, in the spirit of gifting, you also find slips of the very poetry you’ve just heard.  You take a couple to remember poeTree by.

You decide Banana Camp’s signature Banana Margarita can’t wait any longer.

At night, when you return with friends, you find that the pathway to poeTree is well-lit with solar lights imbedded in the poem-blooms.  poeTree itself is lit with blacklight spotlights and LED strands.  LED bees (who must’ve pollinated the lovely poem-blooms), whizz among the foliage.  You realize you’ve been lucky enough to stumble into our emergence-themed drinks cocktail party (which we’ll advertise and host at the tree Friday evening at dusk).

While poeTree isn’t the first tree sculpture to be built at Apo, for sure, it is the first tree we’ve seen that grows poetry.  Indeed, it challenges traditional perspectives because, well, have you ever heard a poem come out of flower?  Oh wait, you probably have, you damn hippie, tree-hugging Burner.  ;)

Aside from gifting and immediacy, the project also incorporates the following Burning Man principles: We are carefully engineering this project to require the least environmental interference and disruption; its durable, “over-engineered” design will not be a source of MOOP.  We don’t build junk.  poeTree welcomes ALL denizens of Apogaea, and will serve as a public meeting place to make new friends and discuss the poems’ ideas.  The project comes out of years of Mistress Immaculate reciting poetry to other Burners at various community events.  Reciting beloved poems is her most valued method of self-expression.  poeTree shares this gift and encourages the same radical expression in others through the interpretation and transmission of favorite poems.

It agrees well with this year’s theme, “Emergence,” in the physical sense of the poems emerging from the blooms, but also in that great poetry causes parts of us to surface, become accessible, and emerge.


poeTree will primarily be built of wood and brightly-colored PVC and recycled plastic, with a few simple sound and light components.  The project will be divided into teams, which are base & bench; branch decoration; audio squad; poem/”blooms” (on tree and on path); lights and electrical.  The project will be housed while being built at Trevor and Stina’s spacious backyard next to Trevor’s garage workspace.

We have set aside at least 6 dedicated work weekends beginning in March (3/14; 4/4; 4/18; 4/25; 5/2; 5/9), Base & Bench crew will begin immediately and have a deadline of 4/4; Branches and Audio will begin immediately and have until 4/25 to complete their work (core members of Base & Bench will be present to properly engineer and connect the branches to the base); Lights and Electrical will be working throughout this time, with a deadline of 5/2; Poem-Blooms, last but not least, will begin mid-April and are due by 5/9.  The whole project has a final deadline of May 26th, which builds in extra time if individual crews drop behind deadlines.

We will use one crew member’s trailer to transport the tree.  The tree will be sectionally prefabricated, and assembled on site (estimated time, 8 hours).  Our crew of ~20 folks does not need to camp with the project, but we’d be open to the idea.  The 15-foot-high installation will require 400 square feet, including a ~50-foot-long pathway to the tree.  We will fortify the already structurally stable base with rebar.  Crew members will be on a rotation to conduct periodic check-ins, which includes keeping fresh batteries running to the audio components during the day, and checking in on the lights component at night.  We’ll have a lock on the electrical and audio cabinet.  The core of the trunk, where the electrical is housed, will be enclosed and water proof.  The project’s audio components will be weather-proofed by their design (ear buds nested inside epoxied cups that point downward).  The branches will be flexible enough to withstand winds.

If our camp were placed next to poeTree, we would need ~1000 additional square feet for camping, but could be flexible.

poeTree needs to be placed away from sound camps for maximum effect due to its own audio components.  We think an ideal location would be in the woods at/near the bottom of the hill, but of course we’re flexible.


Our 20-strong team is composed of multiple members of long-term Burning Man camps who’ve built multiple art projects over the years, including Whiskey and Dust’s Aerial Pyramid (2010 to present); construction, Arduino programming and iPhone app for Story Portal (Apogaea 2013); Amphora (Burning Man 2012); Hula Hideaway (Apogaea 2011 & 2010); Incardia Vere (Burning Man 2008); and the Cathedral (Burning Man 2006).  Amazingly, with the exception of the Cathedral, each of these projects was—absolutely and without complication—completed on time.  Our members are former or current Burning Man/Apo rangers; Greeters; and DPW members.  We have years of combined experience with project management, design, and construction.


Safety third!  Just kidding.  We foresee no major safety issues, or hazards to the environment, due to the lack of a fire or climbing component.  The most important aspect of safety is to ensure that the tree won’t fall over and that the branches are secure.  One of our crew members who will serve as Safety Lead is a Certified Construction Safety Engineer as his day job.  The project will likely be “over-engineered” due to his presence, and the presence of others who have years of experience with construction.  We have no interest in building junk, and aim to build something that will be of use for multiple years and “evolvable” over the years.  It be lit well at night, and the pathway to it will also be cleared of obvious obstructions and well-lit.  The tree will be secured by its stable, broad base (which will serve as a bench) and well-covered rebar.  We are most concerned about the “blooms” themselves, and will work hard to ensure weather-proofing to protect audio elements.  We will seal the “blooms” with epoxy so that water can’t penetrate, and other battery and audio components will be sealed carefully within the locked trunk.  The trunk will be padded with well-secured stuffing that will be comfortable to lean against, but stable. The bloom-poems will be molded to be comfortable against the skin.

The branches will be secured (bolted to the 4x4 internal structure and bundled to other pvc pieces to increase strength) such that torque on the tree base won’t be an issue.  The branches themselves will not be at risk of coming off.


The project leads will cover the projected remaining $238.01 (up to $500.00 over grant amount).  If our overage ends up being over $500, we will fundraise within the construction group. If we go over $1000.00 over, we will create a kickstarter and fundraise via email & facebook campaign. Given how carefully we've priced out our items, we don't imagine going that much over costs.  Our builders have enough experience and enough raw materials laying around their garages that we feel confident about our ability to bring this to fruition.

Description of purchase


marine speakers


mp3 players (4 @ 20.00 ea.)


audio extension cable (24 @ 6.00 ea.)


audio cable splitters (4 @ 6.00 ea.)


earbuds (8 @ 5.00 ea.)


plywood (1/4 x 4 x 8 sheets, 8 @ 24.00 ea.)


4 x 4s (4 @ 12.00 ea.)


2 x 4's (8 @ 5.00 ea.)


burlap (8 yrds)


dayglo spraypaint (5 at 6.00 ea.)


Blacklight reactive luminescent rope (10 @ 10.00 ea.)


LED spotlights (4 @ 10.00 ea.)




1/2 in. PVC (10 10-ft @ 1.67 ea.)


1 in. PVC (6 10-ft. @ 3.00 ea.)


1 1/2 in PVC (2 20-ft @ 18.00 ea.)


recycled plastic soda bottles


Led string chandelier lights


epoxy (2 @ 3.00 ea.)


hot glue


glue sticks


wood screws


rebar (8 @ 5.00 ea.)


staple gun


industrial staples






Project Cost



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