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Black Moon Trio collaborates with New York Times Best-Selling author and Chicago-native, Michael Tyler, and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods to develop an experience for audiences to actively address subjects of wellness and community through music, poetry, and nature. Guided by Tyler’s Sow the Seeds: A Composition in Verse, this program features musical works inspired by local green spaces and encourages audience members to converse and reflect on the ways they treat themselves and their neighbors. Each poem plows the surface of daily living, to plant and nurture the meditations that yield our understanding of life.

Also functioning as a journaling and community building workshop, Sow the Seeds offers ample opportunities to serve Brushwood Center’s Veteran audiences at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center and promotes art and nature as pathways to physical recovery and mental health care. During a 4-week residency program, Veterans will use the themes of wellness and healing through nature to compose original pieces of music using graphic musical notation from art supplies from Brushwood’s Art Supply Exchange (BASE) and subsequently performed by Black Moon Trio musicians. These pieces of music, that at first glance appear to be pieces of abstract art, will be displayed at Brushwood Center accompanied by QR codes that will link to recordings of the works made by Black Moon and allow the general public to listen to the pieces as they were intended to be heard by the Veteran composers who wrote them.

Program in development

Michael Tyler

Since 2003, Tyler’s been putting pen to paper, authoring Water for the Soul: A Father’s Hope for His Son, a collection of life lessons, and Sow the Seeds: A Composition in Verse, a poetry journal.

But in 2005, when one day his son came home from elementary school and shared that he’d been called a racially disparaging name by a classmate on the playground, Tyler began thinking differently about his writing. He knew he wanted to talk with his son about what happened, so he looked to children’s books to help him approach this challenging conversation in a way his 5-year-old could grasp. So, Tyler started reading…


After two weeks and 347 children’s books later, Tyler concluded that the book he needed to help explain to his son race and racism didn’t yet exist, so instead he’d need to write it. That’s how Tyler’s first children’s book, The Skin You Live In, was born.

As an African American man and father to biracial children, Tyler is acutely aware of the world’s “-isms.” To combat racism, sexism and more, he writes affirming, empowering stories to engender self-worth in kids.

Through verse and rhyme, Tyler transforms meaty topics and difficult concepts, including race, acceptance and equity, into language kids can both understand and enjoy. He is passionate about arming parents and educators with the resources and tools (including social and emotional learning curriculum around two of his titles) they need to start tough dialogues with their kids and students.

When he’s not writing, hosting a virtual reading hour or participating in programming around his books, Tyler gets satisfaction through cooking for others. One of his favorite ways to give and receive love is watching someone’s eyes light up after taking their first bite of his butter cake.

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Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods works collaboratively with community partners, healthcare providers, scientists, and artists to improve health equity and access to nature in Lake County, Illinois, and the Chicago region. We engage people with the outdoors through the arts, environmental education, and community action. Brushwood Center’s programs serve with a focus on youth, families, Military Veterans, and those facing racial and economic injustices.

We work toward a future of resilient and connected communities, both human and ecological, where all lead healthy and thriving lives. 

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