Now that we’re deep into winter, finding natural inspiration can sometimes be tough. And although I have a keen appreciation for the muted softness that comes with Winter, I’m still longing for the moment Spring paints my viewfinder in a kaleidoscope of colors. Here in Philadelphia everyday beauty unfolds subtly with shades of brown, grey and purple taking center stage over the occasional pop of green fir trees and the promise of a blue sky.
So when I came across a new hashtag on instagram last week, #thetreehouseclub, I found myself not only intrigued, but wondering if I might have found a little winter salvation too. With 31 prompts being introduced in a 28-day February, I knew right away that this project was different and definitely one I needed to check out.
Further investigation seemed necessary leading me to it’s cozier, more interactive home on flickr complete with a growing community of “tiny mushrooms” and space to chat in the discussion boards. And as it turns out, there is only one set of prompts recycled monthly for you to use any way you like. Shoot daily and watch your world change from month-to-month, or shoot weekly to see how it unfolds. “Come and go as you please!” seems to be the lovely, low-maintenance message. The possibilities are endless.
The group’s connection with nature and the pursuit of everyday beauty appealed to me right away, but it was the sense of community, of bringing women together in a virtual club, a treehouse club no less, that made me think our readers would be delighted to learn about the project too. Perhaps, in the spirit of collaboration, some of you might decide to join.
A few of you, as I discovered, have already climbed up the tree and are enjoying the perks of membership already. Thanks ladies for including these beautiful shots in our Everyday Beauty group too!
I soon learned that The Treehouse (with mustard) Club is the beautiful brainchild of Vanessa Snow, a homeschooling mama of two and light-seeking recorder of all things natural, who lives in sunny Portugal and explores the countryside surrounding her home. She first promoted her idea on her instagram account in late January, before launching at the beginning of the month “to create a bridge through hemispheres, a community of dreamers, adventurous women, always connected with nature.” Sounds perfect to me.
From a quick glance of her flickr stream, Vanessa’s love of nature is immediately evident. She pulls inspiration from the outdoors into her photography regularly exploring the natural world and all things organic.
When I asked her the story behind the group’s creation, she shared this quote from Frida Kahlo:
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
Doesn’t that just make you want to learn more about Vanessa and The Treehouse Club? About how to get involved if Frida’s words connected with you too?
To get to the bottom of things, I asked Vanessa a few more questions!
This is what she had to say:
What is The Treehouse (with mustard) Club?
Like a real treehouse, it’s a place to gather, for sharing stories. A daily, weeky, yearly photography challenge, for women to become attentive to nature, finding beauty everyday. And whenever possible, to walk barefoot! When we were kids, a treehouse was a safe place for dreams and adventures, right in the heart of nature, a tree. I couldn’t possibly make a big treehouse for all members to gather (or could i?) So a virtual one was a good start.
What was your inspiration for choosing the prompts, and your vision for making them the same every month?
My inspiration was definitely Nature, mori girls and Hobbits! (yes, you read that right) Some prompts are obvious and easy to spot in nature (even urban nature) and some push you to get creative, like “silence” or “sound.”
First I had a big list, almost 365 words long. Then I went to bed. All of my ideas are born in my tiny, orange-like head, so in the dark, I connect better with my ideas. Because I love patterns and repetitions, I find them everywhere, and I couldn’t have done it any other way. We go through seasons, light, darkness, moods, so the same word will look different every month, like a pattern evolving. Its surprising how a non-moving word can grow into a dance throughout the year. Therefore we only have one list, so its only our vision that changes.
I love how the prompts ask us to seek out “Everyday Beauty” in our worlds…in our backyards…and then how we get to share it with everyone. Could you talk about “Everyday Beauty” in the Treehouse Club?
Since the whole idea is to capture a prompt throughout the year, through seasons, moods and life, Everyday Beauty will be everywhere. Some days we are so busy with life, kids, jobs, deadlines, that we can overlook a simple beauty. We often notice the sunset because it is so powerful, it marks the end of the day, it’s obvious. But there are many things which go unnoticed and create the big picture that we see every day. The paths you walk every single day will change in a year, and maybe you will notice at the end of the season the clear differences, but what of the little ones? Notice those too, life is in the details. And start with the most beautiful of them all, YOU. On day one.
We sometimes forget that the world is divided, and if we are deep in winter on one side, the other part of the world is enjoying summer warmth that the rest of us may need. I would like to create a bridge, so each and every one of us can notice and enjoy the little details of everyday life.
If you have a flickr account, you can join the group and post your images there. One will be featured every day on the website along with a special mosaic of four pictures from the instagram hashtag. If you dont have a Flickr account, you can post your shots to Instagram using the hashtag #thetreehouseclub.
Vanessa’s outlook on the world, her use of nature in her photography, her love of turning words into images is an inspiration to those of us who need a little push in a magical direction. I hope you have enjoyed learning about this special group and that many of you decide to join in the fun. Jump in and out as time permits, and feel free to make “daily prompts for a year of finding beauty” a part of your routine. You just might find that once you get started, you won’t want to stop. Or as Vanessa’s says,
You don’t have to shoot everyday, but as you start playing along, you start noticing the little things (around you) and before you know it, you are actively searching for beauty.
Vanessa takes pictures and writes words from south of sunny Portugal in the company of an homeschooled duo she calls her own. She is known for not having a phone, forgetting about time and a tendency to get lost. Her days are spent growing vegetables in pots, knitting, and making pancakes while waiting to be transplanted to Maine, where her heart belongs. She really likes snow, apparently.
Do you have a special group project that encourages community? Share it with us in comments so that more people can find you and perhaps join along!