How it Started

How it Started

Founded by Sarah Bergmann in late 2007, the Pollinator Pathway is an interdisciplinary design project created by Bergmann to research and respond to a broader story about nature in our time.

The Pollinator Pathway was built as a proposal for a global ecological design. It is about a shift in environmental imagination; how we think about our relationship with the planet. It is about thinking like designers, and thinking big across systems. Our old narratives of saving species are too small; the Pollinator Pathway reimagines and redesigns the relationship between urban, rural and refuge in what is termed the Anthropocene, or Age of Humankind.

The Book

The Pollinator Pathway is a design project, but design and culture are entwined; how humans design is a product of culture. Much of the thinking and work behind this project will be reflected in a large format book that is being developed simultaneously with the project, that takes us from the rise of plants to the rise of complex human systems. The size of the book– 2’x3’– is a direct nod to Audubon—whose era believed we’d never run out of nature. This project reflects an era in which humanity is now a major ecosystem—and asks us to design accordingly.

Photos: images from the book.

The Original Project

The Pollinator Pathway started as a philosophy and design project in the heart of Seattle, Washington. It is a mile long project that connects Seattle University’s campus with a small woods called Nora’s Woods. Bergmann built a project in order to commit ten years to a big subject, and take a deep dive into planetary history, ecology, design thinking, systems, culture, and the human relationship with the planet. It was based in the long tradition of going to a place to think about our relationship with the planet; instead of seeking a remote location, Bergmann made the project in the heart of a city to reflect the fact that in the Anthropocene, we’re a major ecosystem.

The Pollinator Pathway is a segment of a designed system: as part of an urban section, it takes care to follow these frameworks: it only uses underused space (in this case, planting strips owned by the city), it uses a high number of native plants (80%), and it connects two land fragments.

More about the original Pollinator Pathway


The Pollinator Pathway has been exhibited in several cultural venues.

Genius Exhibition at the Frye Art Museum, 2015

A large-scale exhibition celebrating interdisciplinary and collaborative practice in Seattle and Washington State in the first decades of the twenty-first century.

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, 2012

Bergmann was invited to create an installation at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Working with design collaborators Studio Matthews and architect/builder team Jake Labarre and Nicole Abercrombie, the project was installed at the Park from June 2012 to January 2013. The project included research up-to-date and a cross-section of the project which was then planted into the Pathway in spring of 2013.

Pollinator Pathway Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum, 2012-2013

In conjunction with the Betty Bowen Award: an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum.



Bergmann has partnered with multiple agencies and groups to elaborate and expand on the ideas around the Pollinator Pathway:

  • -A long standing collaboration with Studio Matthews
  • -Seattle University – College of Science and Engineering, and the College of Arts and Sciences
  • -The University of Washington – School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences