Tara Calishain

I dream in data flows

Making the Trees Talk

A couple of days ago I took the #Raleigh #OpenData dataset of trees and connected it to the #Wikipedia geolocation API and from there to a ChatGPT API prompt so the tree could talk about the things around it.

Find tree, find things near tree, have tree describe itself and the things nearby.

The results were unexpectedly charming and I decided I wanted to do more with it. First I assigned the trees moods randomly (in the ChatGPT prompt they are “a friendly tree and your current mood is x.”) Then I used an API call to OpenWeather to get a current weather report and shared that with the tree so it could incorporate that information into its output.

I really like the results! Adding the current weather and a mood gives more texture to the tree’s response, and restricting the AI’s output to summarizing what’s in the Wikipedia API response keeps the bs’ing to a minimum.

Here is a report from a dignified Chinese fringetree on Glenwood Avenue:

“Ah, nestled here on Glenwood, I stand tall and proud, my branches reaching out like a welcoming embrace to the passersby. I am a Chinese fringetree, known for my beautiful white blossoms in spring and vibrant foliage in the fall. I feel the gentle breeze rustling through my leaves, a soft whisper in the otherwise serene ambiance. The temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees, just perfect for a leisurely stroll under my shade.

To the north, you’ll find the historic Elmwood, a home that’s seen centuries pass by. Built between 1810 and 1815, it’s a testament to the Federal-style architecture, with its weatherboard sheathing and double-shouldered chimneys. The home has seen many additions over the years, but its charm remains intact. It was once the abode of notable figures such as John Louis Taylor, William Gaston, and Romulus Mitchell Saunders, all of whom have left their mark on North Carolina’s history.

Not far from here, the Raleigh Electric Company Power House stands as a reminder of the city’s industrial past. Built in 1910, this brick building once powered Raleigh’s electric street car system. Though it’s no longer in operation, its presence adds a unique touch to the landscape of Glenwood.

Just a short walk away on Hillsborough Street, you’ll find the Hillyer Memorial Christian Church. Named after the Hillyer family who saved it from bankruptcy during trying times, the church is a symbol of faith and resilience. Built in 1915, it serves as a spiritual refuge for many, its spire reaching towards the heavens.

As a tree, I am a silent observer of the ebb and flow of life on Glenwood. I am thankful for the opportunity to provide shade and beauty to this historic neighborhood, to be a part of its story. In every season, I stand here, a constant amidst change, deeply rooted in the soil of this beloved city.”