Brightening Marshalltown, One Tree at a Time

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Amid the devastation caused by the Marshalltown tornado were the trees; uprooted, snapped, or damaged beyond hope of recovery.

“You don’t think about them so much when you have them, but when they’re gone…no shade…the downtown looks naked now” said Linda Harvey.

Harvey works the front desk at the Marshalltown Best Western; but when she gets off her shift, she’s been turning damaged trees into art installations.

“I just called it the Marshalltown Beautification Project. I decided on this at like 10 o’clock one night and put it on our local for sale group to see if there was any interest and it had 3,000 responses in two days” said Harvey.

Harvey plans to do eight trees, so far she’s through two and a half, each with their own meaning.

“The first one was ‘feeling blue in Marshalltown but Marshalltown strong’, so that’s how people were feeling for a long time there. The second one was the ‘colors of change’ representing what the tornado did, it kind of stirred things up but it’s making a lot of change for us” she said.

Harvey says she couldn’t lift timber or repair roofs, but she felt the need to do something.

“So I thought, well what can I do? Well I can put a little something different and interesting and beautiful back in the community to make people feel a little bit better and hopeful” said Harvey.

She hopes that others who see the trees will realize that everyone has something they can contribute during tough times.

“When there’s a time of devastation, a time of tragedy, there’s always something they can do. They don’t have to give a bunch of money, they don’t have to give a bunch of time, but figure out what it is that they can do and contribute to the situation” she said.

Harvey used to work as a sculptor for Disney at their theme parks. She says if anyone wants to come work with her on these trees they can call her at 641-260-0810.