The new CommuniTREE in the Municipal Building shows off brightly colored green ‘leaves of Thanksgiving’ with tags attached to CommuniTREE to say thanks to all who serve. Photo by Vint Miller/Los Alamos County
With Veterans’ Day today and Thanksgiving holidays just around the corner, a new art installation in the Municipal Building has been designed to say “thank you” to all those who serve.
The new artwork, titled CommuniTREE, is located in the north hallway on the ground floor of the Municipal Building. It was designed with the idea of having an interactive art exhibit marking the 20-year anniversary of the Cerro Grande Fire in May 2020. Green ribbon and tags denoting the 20th year since the devastating wildfire that burned over 400 structures in Los Alamos were intended to be a community art project, with residents invited to complete tags with their favorite words or memories of how Los Alamos came together to rebuild and recover after the fire.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, plans had to change because of new COVID Safe Protocols, with social distancing and mass gatherings prohibited. Cerro Grande 20-year events had to be canceled or postponed in May, but yet CommuniTREE had already been designed and delivered before the March 2020 shutdown. The question of how to use the tree became a topic of discussion internally at the County, and new plans were drawn up to complete the project in a new and meaningful way.
“We knew that the month of November is traditionally a month of Thanksgiving,” said Julie Habiger, Public Information Officer, “First with the Veterans’ Day observance honoring all of our veterans on November 11th, and then two weeks later with the celebration of Thanksgiving. We decided to ‘decorate’ CommuniTREE with tags that thanked all of those who serve in our community, especially during these challenging times with the pandemic. We wanted to find an artistic way to honor and thank all of those in Los Alamos and White Rock who have had to go above and beyond.”
Habiger worked with her graphic designers in the County to brainstorm a list of all the various service jobs, and then the tags were marked with the job titles and tied onto CommuniTREE with the green ribbon, just in time to unveil the new artwork before the Veterans’ Day holiday tomorrow.
“We wanted to do something positive and uplifting for the community, and we hope that those who may be visiting the building to conduct business will take a few minutes to stop by and see the tree,” she said.
Habiger gave kudos to Public Relations and Facilities’ staff for the tree’s overall design and installation against the beautiful artistic wooden background.
“Special thanks goes to Tim Martinez and Emiliano Martinez in Facilities, with sincere appreciation for Tim’s talents in woodworking, along with a big thank you to Leslie Bucklin for the graphic design of the metal tree and inspiration for how we could use the tree after original plans had to be altered during the pandemic,” she said, adding that the long term plan for CommuniTREE is to work with other County divisions, the Main Street Association, Los Alamos Public Schools and those organizations who are under contract to the County to provide a variety of events and services, so that the “leaves” on the tree can be changed out on a regular basis to denote different events, themes or messages.
“From the beginning, we wanted CommuniTREE to be a project that involved the local community, and that’s still our long-range plan, once we get past the pandemic emergency,” Habiger said, “We hope by making the tree eye-catching and interesting for those who visit the Municipal Building year-round, it will inspire everyone and raise awareness of what others are doing to serve in Los Alamos.”
Those honored are:
- Construction workers
- Daycare Workers
- Police Officers
- Grocery Store Clerks
- U.S. Postal Workers
- Delivery Drivers
- Truck Drivers
- Election Clerks
- Restaurant Workers
- School Workers
- Bus Drivers
- Public Health Workers
- First Responders
- Utility Workers