Can the Internet help people ask for forgiveness? ApologyGrove.org is an attempt to answer that question. The Apology Grove allows people to make an apology or view and witness public apologies. One can also respond to an apology made to them using this site.
We sometimes commit transgressions that, for one reason or another, we find hard to apologize for. But special kinds of communication media can sometimes facilitate apology-making. I find certain kinds of deep apologies easier to convey through writing an email, for example. I’d like to find out whether something like the Apology Grove can perform a similar function.
Apology Grove is also inspired by the way a previous project I worked on, Biomodd [LBA2], which addressed multiple challenges with a single, creative solution. I chose to represent apologies in the Apology Grove as virtual bamboo stalks, but ultimately, I would like to find a way to plant a real bamboo shoot for every apology registered on this site. This will be the next phase of this project. I’d like to look into using a remotely controlled robotic arm to do this or (I think even better) work with an agricultural or horticultural non-profit in the Philippines (where I live and work) to plant bamboo, and with a similar organization in Canada that has ties with First Nations communities to plant cedar trees for the Forgiveness Grove.
I decided to put up the Apology Grove because every time I mentioned the idea to people, they seemed really interested in seeing what would happen if I did. Electronically-mediated apologies aren’t new. imsorry.com allows members of the site to apologize over email or through a gift or a card that you purchase on their site. An “I’m Sorry Card” from the site costs 6 USD, two dollars of which are forwarded to charity. Allan Bridge’s 1980 conceptual art project, The Apology Project, invited anonymous callers to dial a number and leave confessions on an answering machine. Over 1000 hours worth of messages were recorded. But the confessions never directly reached what the victims of the transgressions, which ranged from petty offenses to “ritualistic murders”. The Apology Grove is similar to Bridge’s Apology Project in that both use electronic media to mediate a particular type of human interaction, but unlike the Apology Project, the Apology Grove aims to directly connect apologies with their recipients; a confession, after all, is not identical to an apology.
I am looking for collaborators for this project. If this idea interests you, please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org!