2017 World Wood Day was jointly organized by the World Wood Day Foundation (WWDF) and the International Wood Culture Society (IWCS) and supported by various industry businesses and non-profit organizations to explore the theme Roots. 2017 World Wood Day (March 21st) observed its fifth celebration and welcomed 580 participants from 85 countries and regions from around the world from March 21-26 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in Long Beach, California, USA.

Opening Ceremony

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On the morning of March 21st after a special ceremony of the Tongva tribe, Mr. Daryl Supernaw, Fourth District Councilman of the City of Long Beach, presented certificates of recognition to the event organizers, World Wood Day Foundation and International Wood Culture Society. Welcome remarks were delivered by Dr. Andrew Wong, IUFRO representative, Dr. Howard Rosen, WWDF Chairman, and Dr. Chung-Yun Hse, President of IWCS. The pinnacle of the opening ceremony was the multi-cultural music performances by nine groups of professional musicians from six continents.


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From March 22-24, the 2017 World Wood Day Symposium gathered 35 scholars from 16 different countries to examine six sub-categories of research fields in historical utilization and cultural values; traditional knowledge, innovations and practices; natural landscape and biodiversity conservation; art, design, architecture and music; international and domestic challenges and wood and environmental education.

Keynote addresses, talks, and heated discussion efficiently allowed speakers to share and exchange their research findings and ideas. Topics elaborated during the three-day event were designed to raise awareness on current issues around the world and to enhance interdisciplinary discussions for a better understanding of diversity and towards sustainable development.

Collaborative Project

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Titled “Collaborative Roots,” the collaborative project designed a wooden sculptural installation of one stylized seed and five elegant upright panels. With the well-equipped workshop support from Cerritos College, 14 international and six local artists were able to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the process of designed, tooling, molding and assembling. The panels with heights ranging from 9 to 11.5 feet are leaf-shaped hollows that create a forest-like surrounding. The seed was placed at the entrance of Hall C at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center so that the audience could see it upon entering which is visually extended to the center area where the panels stand. The collaborative project designed the graceful and refined wooden sculptural installation to reflect the 2017 theme of Roots.

International Woodcarving Show

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2017 Wood Carving Show gathered 120 carvers from 70 different countries and regions. About 90 woodcarvers were assigned to teams of 3 to work together creating sculptural designs on a slab of wood. California Carvers Guild (CCG), partner of the Woodcarving Show, had a strong presence with carvers demonstrating their skills in several categories. International, Native and CCG carvers brought their own work for the exhibition showcasing a wide range of creativity, skills, formats and culture.

During an intensive five days, the audience witnessed how a rough piece of wood slab can be turned into an amazing piece of artwork through collaboration. Throughout the process, woodcarvers had to overcome difficulties either in differences in language or creativity to achieve a common goal - to create art that is unique and one-of-a-kind. Each piece is a combination of individual artistic creativity and culture to interpret the theme Roots based on various backgrounds.

A different approach made this year's woodcarving show more cohesive and visually cultivating. Not only has the community grown, but a tight network also emerged. We hope to keep this energy of explosive creativity and communal love for wood to go on with every participant so they can share it with other people.

International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational (IYAFMI)

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Twenty young furniture makers from 12 countries and regions were assembled at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center to participate in the 2017 WWD International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational (IYAFMI). Four previous participants returned as group leaders and the remaining group was randomly assigned into four teams regardless of their cultural differences and language barriers. Craftsmanship served as their common group to turn a pile of timber into something incredible. With 36 hours of contribution, every one of them was proud to exhibit their project to the audience, which was a piece of furniture that vividly represented an interpretation of their own culture as well as a reflection of the 2017 WWD theme Roots. The essence of collaboration facilitated the establishment of fellowship among them throughout the event and smiles became the trademark of the International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational.

Woodturning Demonstration

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This year's woodturning program has 13 woodturners for the onsite demonstration, instant exhibition and an open session. Beside 7 machine power lathes, two Chinese traditional lathes, a foot-powered lathe and a bow lathe, were presented by the intangible cultural heritage bearer, Master Li Xuemin. Mr. Murray Lincoln, a traditional lathe advocate from Canada, demonstrated the spring pole and treadle lathe with detailed explanation. An interesting demonstration of human-powered lathe was given by Andy Chen. The style of the old-fashioned lathes has surprisingly caught the attention among youngsters, and audience was given opportunities to interact with turners and try all different lathes themselves.

Wood Design

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Started in 2016, Wood Design explores the potential of wood, rooting in inspiration. Headed by Wendy Maruyama, 15 contemporary artists from 3 countries explored the intersection between art, design and craft across diverse and varied techniques. Several artists began their WWD projects on the campus of the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) with support of the Wood Department headed by Professor Ryan Taber. This year’s designs included a New Zealand inspired canoe, a Ghanaian chili pepper coffin, a futuristic chair, a Japanese inspired screen, an eco-friendly bike, four geometric shape woodcarvings, two stylish cabinets and two large reclaimed wood installations.

Temple Bus

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Following his previous World Wood Day project, Memorial Stupa, in Nepal, renowned artist David Best, well-known for his extraordinary large-scale temples at Burning Man, along with his team of volunteers created a temple bus for 2017 World Wood Day.

David wanted something that combines his own uniqueness with the international participants. The 20-passenger vehicle was decorated with Birch plywood fretwork and a removable gold leafing. 16 basswood plaques were passed out to carvers during the event period, including artists from Vietnam, Korea, South Africa, Canadian Native tribes and members of the California Carvers Guild. They were encouraged to carve a design that resonated a personal story, memories, or symbols of their own cultures to be later attached to the bus. One particular wooden block compiled cut-out shapes from every woodcarver to represent the global community of World Wood Day. The bus will be driven to Houston, Texas in April for the 30th Houston Art Car Parade and to Burning Man in August and eventually displayed in a future wood culture museum.

Folk Art Workshop

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For 2017 WWD, the Folk Art & Traditional Craftsmanship Workshop gathered 14 groups of folk artists from nine countries and regions. Dividing into thematic groups of mask, puppetry, printing, decoration and automata contrasted and highlighted distinctive characteristics and cultural values of each folk art. Groups of Native Americans were also invited to display their use of wood. Through interactive demonstrations, presentations and workshops, people were amazed by the exquisite process of making, the spirit of striving for the best and the dedication of preserving skilled craftsmanship. As suggested by the theme Roots, the folk art program reflected the diversity and depth of wood culture from different parts of the world.

Music Festival

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Every wooden instrument is the media that connects ancestral rhythms and past stories with its traditional heritage. This musical tunnel runs through thousands of years transforming into fruitful essences, some of which are originally made while others are blended with a modern touch. All of these allows us to relate to their background through the musician’s own life experience.

2017 WWD music festival boasts almost 200 musicians, dancers, composers and instrument makers performing with a wide variety of musical genres. This music festival features traditional, folk, classic and contemporary music with each revealing memories of different phases of human history across the globe.

The music festival is not only a platform to show music of their origin, but it is also a chance to explore both the common and uncommon among wooden instruments and the result brought sparks from the fusion of their collaboration. Musicians were sources of audio enjoyment with their magical tones, the dancers were visually catching with their dance steps and together compelling both on and back stage.

Special Movie Project

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To highlight the unique role of wood in human history and emphasize the importance of roots in different societies, a special movie project was initiated for 2017 World Wood Day. IWCS teams and international producers were asked to make a 20 to 30 minute- long movie reflecting the theme of this year, "Roots".

From fiction to documentary, these movies show a diversity of topics and approaches though they ultimately reach the same goal of urging all of us to review and embrace our roots. Among the project productions, Roots of Lacrosse and Symphony of the Ceiba were selected to preview at the Movie Nights during the 2017 World Wood Day in Long Beach. Received with positive feedback from WWD participants, the two movies along with the other great ones are now released as sharing part of the fruitful project outcomes.

Children's Event

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A series of activities aimed to nurture a sense of respect and responsibility towards wood, forest and nature were presented during the 2017 WWD Children’s Event. An eye-catching point of the program was Roboky, a robot made of wood with magical stories about trees, forests and the earth. By reading Roboky story books, watching DVDs, coloring and assembling and decorating miniature Roboky, the kids had great fun with this lovely wooden character and got to know about wood as an eco-friendly biomaterial. Also, interactive lessons given by a wood educator allowed the children to learn about the advantages of wood through smell, touch and sound. DIY chopsticks also attracted all the participants. Making chopsticks with a small set of wooden tools gave them a sense of achievement from simple woodworking. These first-hand experiences help us pass our passion for wood to future generations.

Tree Planting

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A unique tree-planting event was held on the campus of California State University Long Beach (CSULB) at sunrise on the morning of March 21st. The ceremony started with a sunrise blessing and prayer led by CSULB professor and Tongva member Cinid Alvitre. Following a smudging, a Palo Verde tree was planted. A traditional and introductory lacrosse game with curved wooden sticks was held for participants to witness and experience.

Closing Ceremony

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Following the exhibition of works produced from all the program on March 26th in the afternoon, the Closing Ceremony opened with an original short play loosely adapted from an Osage Legend called The Wisdom of a Willow Tree. Each of the 13 program leaders gave a touching summary of their respective program and project. Wooden music performances served as a great conclusion to the week-long event.

The fifth World Wood Day in USA has proved another successful cultural event and addressed the importance of wood and its cultural perspectives for a sustainable future. Almost all the woods used during the event are harvested from urban forestry of California. Documentaries and pictures of the event will be uploaded to WWD website and Facebook. We appreciate all the support from our sponsors, partners and participants and heartily welcome all of you to the next remarkable World Wood Day in 2018!

World Wood Day