Because of the overwhelming desire to honor and memorialize the tragic losses that occurred on September 11, 2001 (9-11) the United States Congress asked the USDA Forest Service to create the Living Memorials Project (LMP). This initiative invokes the resonating power of trees to bring people together and create lasting, living memorials to the victims of terrorism, their families, communities, and the nation. Cost-share grants provided by the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry supported the design and development of community projects in the New York City metropolitan area, southwest Pennsylvania, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In the Southern Area (Region 8), the Forest Service worked with officials from the Pentagon, American Forests and Arlington County on developing additional memorial sites.
The Northern Research Station conducted an open and participatory social and site assessment of public spaces that have been created, used, or enhanced in memory of this tragic event. Researchers created a National Registry that serves as an online inventory of hundreds of community-based, living memorial sites. Memorials created from 2001-2004 are displayed on a National Map which will continue to be updated as new site locations are identified, registered and uploaded to the site. Findings from the first years of research are available on this site. This research project was awarded the 2007 EDRA/Places Award for Research. The National Registry was also given an award on September 11, 2007 for "Preserving 9/11" by "Voices of September 11th."
The public multi-media exhibition Land-Markings: 12 Journeys through 9/11 Living Memorials was on display at the National Park Service’s Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street, gaining exposure to approximately 200 visitors/day for 3 weeks. The exhibit development was incorporated in the curriculum of 500 undergraduate freshmen at Parsons “The New School for Design”. It also traveled to the Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in April 2007 and was a part of the September 11 display at the Connecticut Historical Society in September 2007. The exhibit catalog and DVD is now available free for public use, and the videos can be viewed online.
The concept of planting "living memorials" is not new. For centuries, humans have used nature as a symbolic and innate response to mark the cycles of life. The LMP attempted to amplify community actions in the post-9-11 context and to connect these decentralized, yet common, threads of expression and hope. Forest Service scientists at the New York City Urban Field Station continue to explore the ways in which green spaces promote individual and community resilience with work in Joplin, MO and Detroit, MI in the ‘Landscapes of Resilience’ project.