Heat Response PHL: Heat Response PHL’s Public Art Installation Engages Attendees at Annual PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

A public art installation from The Trust for Public Land’s Heat Response PHL project was recently featured at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) annual Philadelphia Flower Show — the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event. For the first time in the Flower Show’s 200-year history, the 10-day festival was held outdoors at the beautiful FDR park, a natural setting ripe for discussion of issues such as the importance of green, cooling space. Heat Response’s interactive and creative exhibit, combined with the location, underscored the dangerous reality of extreme heat, sparked meaningful conversations among attendees, and spurred new connections between The Trust for Public Land and the communities it serves. 

To engage attendees, Philly-based Artists Jenna Robb and Jose Ortiz-Pagan — alongside community members — created a large, three-panel mural that detailed how rising temperatures directly impact Philadelphians’ daily lives and long-term health, and highlighted Heat Response’s efforts to achieve climate justice in three neighborhoods: Grays Ferry, Fairhill, and Southeast Philly. 

Attendees of all ages were drawn to the installation’s vibrant mural that doubled as an interactive chalkboard, inviting kids to write, draw, and think about fun prompts such as: “What ‘earth-saving’ superpower would you like to have?”, “What do you like to eat in the hot summer months?”, and “What are creative ways we can care for our environment?”

To reach an even wider audience, Heat Response also deployed its new ‘Treecycle’ at the 2021 Flower Show. Designed by world-renowned environmental artist Eve Mosher, the Treecycle is a mobile, adult-sized tricycle with a built-in elm tree. The Treecycle is meant to be used — and Heat Response team members pedaled it and its messaging throughout the Flower Show each day.

With temperatures skyrocketing now that summer is in full-swing, conversations about extreme heat could not be more timely. Partnering in action with organizations like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to highlight the dangers of rising temperatures and the urgent need for climate justice is at the crux of Heat Response. Beyond the Flower Show, Heat Response will continue engaging community members in Grays Ferry, Fairhill, and Southeast Philly, as well as bring art and resources to local pop-ups and appearances in neighborhoods all throughout Philadelphia.