Illustration of a mobile camper with people inside

Backyard Phenology is a participatory art and science project for people to share stories and forge new connections to place.

The project fosters an ongoing multilogue about the ecosystems we inhabit; and how we understand those ecosystems through art, science, and culture. Dip into the conversation by browsing documentation on Backyard Phenology's objects, events, ​​​​​​​ephemera, and audio recordings.


Climate Chaser

Whether you call it a caravan, camper, or trailer, the mobile home is iconic and common to many cultures. But it carries different associations for folks in different walks of life. As such, it is a boundary object, something that joins people from different communities into a shared conversation andpotentiallycollaboration.

The refurbished Climate Chaser is a chrome camper trailer with a rounded profile and blue and red decals
An castoff camper trailer with a rounded shape sits outside of a garage
The restored camper has new interior cabinetry and a refinished chrome exterior
An illustration of the Climate Chaser trailer, set up outdoors in a residential area with an open door and a welcoming sign
Nine people wearing shorts and branded tee shirts ("Backyard Phenology") are posed outside the Climate Chaser camper trailer
Two people seated at a small table inside the trailer camper, with dramatic lighting and recording equipment

In the summer of 2023, the BYP team refurbished and enhanced Climate Chaser in preparation for a fall exhibit at Regis Center for Art (September 12-December 9, 2023). New features include sound design by Brian Heller and upholstery by Olli Johnson using fabrics designed by Steve Premo.

Silver camper in a gallery space, the door is open and interior lights welcome visitors
Two smiling people are seated within the Climage Chaser camper
Camper interiorwith cushioned seating around a table and objects to interact with
View from the camper's door, looking in at seating, cabinets, string lighting, and a library of objects

Within the Climate Chaser, art by Chotsani Elaine Dean is on view. Open the lidded box and gently flip through this small archive of plant seeds in paper packets, each with a handwritten catalogue of its contents.

Box containing small paper envelopes, handwriting describes what seeds are contained
Rectangular, white paper envelope with handwritten list of kinds of seeds contained
A paper envelope with an intricate geometric pattern made from black and white cut paper
Box containing paper envelopes, three of which have strongly contrasting designs made with cutout paper


Perennial journal

More than a handy place to keep notes, a journal helps us remember how it feels to notice. Perhaps, a slight buffer from the daily rush, a shuffle in the flow of time. A phenology journal is for jotting down what you see (or hear) in your backyard, from one day to the next. When will that oak out my window green up? When will a robin's song herald this year's spring?

Backyard Phenology Calendar
Page from a notebook with hand-penned lines of script and a hand-colored illustration of a caterpillar on a leaf.
Phenology journal - yellowed ledger paper with plant names in cursive, July 1881
A simple calendar layout for the month of January, with line for each day of the month. Illustrations of animals add interest to the design.


Reframing Our Relations: A Community Meal and Conversation

October 2, 2022 at Franconia Sculpture Park

The Backyard Phenology collective designed this event to explore complicated narratives around invasive species, also referred to as non-local beings.

Hand-penned and hand-colored invitation reads "You're Invited" embellished with flowing stems, leaves, and seeds
Hand-penned invitation with event details and a prompt for storytelling. There is also space for the recipient to take notes as they reflect.
A long table with fifteen place settings. The colorful scene includes a red tablecloth, a large bouquet of colorful summer flowers, and living mushrooms under glass bell jars.
Four photos showing the source sumac and preparation of sumac lemonade
An attractive place setting with a green salad, flax seed bread, lemonade tinged pink by sumac, and yellow squash soup.
Three people sit around a table after a meal. The afternoon sun shines brightly on them, and into the space.
A serving of berry pie with ice cream on a china plate with a floral pattern
Eight people walking into the distance in an autumn landscape. The sun is low and the grass is green.
Small paper cards with hand-written messages are tied to a maple branch with brilliant red leaves.


September 25, 2021 at Franconia Sculpture Park

BioQuest was envisioned to connect ecology, land stewardship, and the arts, a major thread of Franconia Sculpture Park's mission. The day's activities were the collaborative work of artists, scientists, students, naturalists, public historians, sculpture park staff, and the public.

Silhouettes of animals in a circle, and a hand holding a cell phone
A map of Franconia with several place markers that are green, orange, and blue. Below the map is a carousel of photos of plants and other living things.