Hopeless / Hopeful

We have the choice between collective action or collective suicide.

The Hopeless/Hopeful artivist action took place following the removal by the local government of a tree that had secretly been planted overnight, alongside several others throughout the city of Geneva, by an anonymous collective. As a response to the tree’s removal we mapped out its branches and canopy on the grass below to show the scale of the shade it would have provided if allowed to grow.

United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has announced that half of humanity is now in a danger zone threatened by floods, droughts, hurricanes, forest fires… No nation is safe and yet, nothing in our behaviour changes.

While increasingly deadly heatwaves assault the world’s cities, we continue to feed our dependence on fossil fuels. New roads and motorized traffic routes continue to be planned and there is no political will to slow or reverse the man-made global climate breakdown.

Proactively making room for more trees and plants is a simple, common-sense way to combat the stifling heat of our urban centres. Vegetation acts like the lungs of a city and creates natural shade and coolness : a planted roof or green space reduces the surrounding temperature by 5 degrees.

We believe it is within the power of all citizens to act today, at whatever scale they can. Whether through acts of artivism to raise urgent awareness among the public and the authorities, or through local actions of planting more vegetation to fight the concrete, we can all do something meaningfully hopeful. Not tomorrow, but today.

– Dan Acher, Frédéric Favre, Yannis La Macchia, Claude Marthaler

What this tree could have been :

English name – Italian Alder
Latin name – Alnus cordata
Mature height – up to 15m
Mature width – up to 8m
Pyramidal shape, heart-shaped deciduous leaves. Withstands drought, provides food for birds.

>> For more on Dan Acher's work please visit

Happy City Lab - 50 rue Rothschild - 1202 Geneva - Switzerland