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Storytelling Trees

Forests occupy a prominent place in the many traditions of oral storytelling found around the globe. A good story can accomplish many fantastic things.  Yes, stories entertain, and teach, but stories can take really complicated stuff and make it all accessible to everyone.

With site-specific data collected from the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA), and inspiration from Fred Pinto, an internationally recognized forester and president of Friends of the Laurier Woods, David Merleau conjures a most intimate radio experience, one that will leave you thinking that humans have more in common with trees than you ever thought possible.   


 Through the lens of forest ecology, the 'information grid' finds its analogue in the natural world of trees. Mycorrhizal Fungi, strewn throughout the forest underground form a chemical and electrical network connecting the root tips of many species of trees. 

Now, imagine that this network is a radio station, and the fungus is the radio host taking "calls" from the trees in the forest. THIS is Forest Talk Radio.  

Ok, now imagine that as you walk through the Laurier Woods in North Bay ON, the GPS on your smartphone triggers one of these storytelling trees to speak in your ear when you are standing in front of it--THIS is the Forest Talk Radio App - Find it on Google Play, March 2019.  



"...Us Friendly Fungi look at what you call 'info tech"heck, we’ve been doing this for ages!!
But we definitely like this thing you call the 'internet'...
"One morning I felt the pulse of one of those smartphones above me. Turns out a radio producer dropped it. Know what I did before he picked it up?
Hacked it.
Sent him an email too.
And together with community partners,
some public arts funding, a bunch of research and writing,
Voila, the first broadcast of Forest Talk Radio..." 

David Merleau is a media artist, performance storyteller and independent audio doc producer.

He is Manager of the Storytellers of Canada Radio and Podcast Program, a ShortDoc producer with the Third Coast Audio Festival, and has had audio docs featured on CBC's Morning North with Marcus Schwabe.

With a diploma in Radio Broadcasting, a degree in Philosophy and Biology, and a Master's Degree in Ethics and Technology, David pursues a creative existence in North Bay Ontario.  

New Post Title

Ah yes, On Site Research

Posted 8/28/2018

It is tricky business to look upon a forest and create folktales through the lens of forest ecology. What happens when a tree is invaded by pest?  Know what? It broadcasts a signal to tell other trees of the impending danger!  BROADCASTING TREES!  Pretty wild...pardon the pun... I have to graciously thank Fred Pinto a life-long local forester and president of the Friends of the Laurier Woods, for the boots on the ground walking tours.  I definitely foresee another GPS triggered audio tour capturing Fred's wisdom--truly endless!

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Dear Postal worker, is today the day?

Posted 2/10/2018

Eugh, four months is a long time to wait to see if a project is a go, but I swear today is the day I will find out...oh?  is that the dog barking?  yes!!  the mail man is across the street....and coming this way! "I"ll take that envelop that upon closer inspection looks like it has a cheque in it!!  WOO WEE!  I tell ya, it is quite gratifying and well, I have a peculiar sense of validation knowing that the Ontario Arts Council appreciates my grant application!  A shame to realize that if my grant applications don't succeed then maybe the idea sucked, but today, FOREST TALK RADIO: LAURIER WOODS ED. IS A GO!!

The Ontario Arts Council grant app is in!

Posted 10/6/2017

Well, after a long haul, the budget, the support letters, the project description, establishing community partnerships and well, the hardest part, figuring out how this project furthers my artistic career, I am finally done!  SUBMIT button pushed!  Fingers crossed.

Forest Talk Radio - Brought to you by support from both public and private funding.Forest Talk Radio - Brought to you by support from both public and private funding.

The Laurier Woods Edition Partners:

North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority

Friends of Laurier Woods

Near North Mobile Media Lab

Chrisdanat Management Ltd.