Voices in the Landscape for Children

orange text that reads "Voices in the Landscape"

For Kids and Families

Deeply Rooted 
with Storyteller 
Charlotte Blake 

Navigating Voices in the Landscape Online with Children

Welcome to the online experience for Voices in the Landscape: Deeply Rooted with Charlotte Blake Alston.

The original idea of the installation was to explore and reflect on the experiences of and historical relationships between African Americans and American soil through the lens of horticulture. It is a unique and unexplored perspective that created wonderful opportunities for storytelling.

Since the Voices in the Landscape audio installation first launched in 2021, we have added six companion narratives for children. They are: The Power of Story, To Speak of Water, A Walk with Frederick Douglass, Safety and Solace in the Woods, Making a Connection, and Beauty and Brilliance of Nature.

Each is 3 minutes or less and designed to be enjoyed by children between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. I encourage you to listen to those segments as well as the original audio and encourage conversation with your children about the stories they will hear and the surrounding environment where the story has been placed. Two story segments are framed within the historical context of American slavery: A Walk with Frederick Douglass and Safety and Solace in the Woods. However, they speak of resilience and the ways people sought and found comfort in nature. The texts are crafted in language children can easily understand. As a former elementary school teacher, I know that when children and adults engage with each other, both come away with a deeper and richer experience. It is my desire that each story segment will inspire and serve to validate the beauty and variety of nature and the strength of the human spirit.

—Charlotte Blake Alston

Audio files with introductory audio descriptions of each location are available below. Nicole Sardella voices the audio descriptions. The audio descriptions use words to describe the landscape and plants of Longwood associated with Charlotte’s stories, as experienced in the winter season.

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Teacher Guide

Use this resource to help students better understand the strength, resilience, and contributions of the African American community through the lens of horticulture and power of storytelling.

an empty arbor next to a a tall evergreen and a tree with bare branches, against a wintry sky

Rose Arbor

The Power of Story

Listen as storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston prepares you for the audio journey ahead.

Listen now:

the watery reflection of leafless branches against a blue sky

Large Lake

To Speak of Water

There are many amazing things about this planet called Earth. Perhaps the most amazing of all is water.

Listen now:

Listen with description of the landscape:

closeup of a wooden walkway with meadow and farmhouse in background

Meadow Boardwalk

A Walk with Frederick Douglass

Learn about the beautiful place where Frederick Douglass—one of America’s most famous freedom fighters—came home to feed his mind and heart.

Listen now:

Listen with description of the landscape:

closeup of wooden walkway and railing

Lookout Loft Treehouse

Safety and Solace in the Woods

Learn how the woods served as a welcoming place and sometimes as a pathway to freedom.

Listen now:

Listen with description of the landscape:

large green compound leaves surround large golden cones in a circular pattern

East Conservatory

Making a Connection

Meet one of the Earth’s oldest plants—the Wood’s cycad—and learn how it came to Longwood.

Listen now:

Listen with description of the landscape:

a bird-of-paradise in bloom with blue and gold petals


Beauty and Brilliance of Nature

The beautiful bird-of-paradise flower is different from nearly every other flower in the world. Learn about the symbolism of its colors and its name.

Listen now:

Listen with description of the landscape:

Voices in the Landscape

Explore the full route, including 10 additional narratives plus a bonus track by Charlotte Blake Alston.

Voices in the Landscape is an Accessible Experience

Voices in the Landscape: Deeply Rooted with Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston
Texts: by Charlotte Blake Alston, Copyright © Charlotte Blake Alston, March 2023
Photos: Images of Frederick Douglass and George Washington Carver courtesy of Library of Congress. Photo of Charlotte Blake Alston by Deborah Boardman. Voices in the Landscape location photography by Hank Davis.