The Issue: In early September, patrons of H Street NE began to notice H-shaped planters in the empty tree boxes along the sidewalk. There were 40 in all, each brightly painted and complete with an unappealing plant. So who is behind the mysterious “Project H”? That would be the non-profit DC Greenworks, which had the art installation project approved by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A and the District Department of Transportation. Some community members argue that the planters, designed by Criston Mize and built by teenagers in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s Green Summer Job Corps program, are the definition of an eyesore—and DC Greenworks is okay with that.

I’d Rather Have a Tree! Although the project was approved by area businesses, some people who walk by the planters every day aren’t as thrilled: Mr. T, commenting on the blog Prince of Petworth, says: “They’re ugly – look like some anti-terrorist barriers on steroids. We have enough concrete planters and jersey barriers in this town, let’s get some real trees and plantings in those tree boxes.”

Keep Talking! The planters are intended to draw attention to the empty tree boxes in the neighborhood. Sara Loveland, interim executive director of DC Greenworks, told City Desk: “There are people saying they’re fugly, what’s the point, I would rather have a tree! But now these people are talking about trees for the first time. We wanted to be provocative, so as far as were concerned, the project has been a success.”

Next Step: Loveland says the art installation will be up for about 18 months—or until the city gets around to planting trees. In the meantime, the crew that cleans H Street is looking after the planters, and business owners (and vigilant pedestrians) are supposed to be watering the plants.

Photo by Prince of Petworth, reprinted with permission.