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Woman using music and trees to transform community

Posted at 8:03 PM, Mar 14, 2018

They say music is a universal language, something that can connect us on many different levels. So when it shows up where you least expect it, that makes it even more special.

One woman's dream is translating across an entire community in more ways than she could have imagined.

Listen closely and you can hear the sweet sound of jazz in one park. There's no band, and you can't see any speakers. But if you happen to stumble upon a small door tucked inside a tree trunk, you'll stumble upon your own personal performance.

"I was in awe to actually hear music coming out of a tree," says Bruce Bo-Wdry who lives near the park.

He still remembers the moment he first heard music flowing from this sound totem, and seeing neighborhood kids share his excitement.

"They were all over it," Bo-Wdry recalls. "And then they go to the box and then they open up the door, and you can see the gleam on their little faces like awh you know!" 

Artist Nikki Pike came up with the idea. 

"I had a dream where there was a miniature opera singer singing in the hollow of the tree," Pike says. "And then I realized that maybe there was an opportunity." 

A sound totem in Denver, Colorado, was the first realization of that dream. From there she built more, putting the solar and battery powered music boxes in trees across her city, and filling them with music performed by people who live in those neighborhoods. 

"I sort of built the stage and they are the performers," Pike says. "So it's a real community effort." 

She doesn't share exactly where the totems are, instead she allows people's curiosity lead them to discovering music, art and community. An idea she believes can spread across the country.

"The leap in peoples mind to imagine them in their own community is easy," Pike says. "Whereas before when it was an idea and a drawing it was harder to imagine."

While the totems add a special spark to the trees and communities they call home, Pike said these small spaces do so much more.

"I do think this is how you change the world," Pike says. "Just a little sliver of hope a little example of magic or positivity."

A sweet surprise to brighten your day, and connect a community.