Cross Pollination is an art-making project to nourish sharing between the different communities at Nightingale Community Garden: gardeners, pollinators, and poets.
Cross Pollination was created by Claudia Paraschiv, Annie Scott, and Azia Carle with great help from our summer intern, Katherine Iipinge. The project was a winning entry for the 2018 Public Space Invitational: Community Gardens and Green Spaces from the Office of Urban Mechanics, City of Boston, in partnership with The Trustees, The Fenway Garden Society, and sponsor TD Bank.
Our Cross-Pollination project is three-pronged: functional need of shade and pollinators for the gardeners and their crops, the process of creating dialogue between gardeners and local artists and community members, and the visual attraction of the artful objects. The multi-step making of the project will involve distinct communities in fruitful cross-pollination.
To begin, we planted “Pollinator-Pots” with native pollinator-friendly flowers to attract bees and butterflies that will benefit the gardens with greater fertilization and productivity. The “Pollinator-Pots” will also be “planted” with locally-crafted people-friendly “Shade-Flowers” to provide needed shade for gardeners, while also attracting residents walking by to their bright colors and poetic messages. These “shade-flowers” are made African fabric prints stretched over hula-hoops. During our proposed events, local poets of all levels, ages, and aspirations had the opportunity to explore Nightingale Community Garden and talk with the gardeners, share stories, and listen to each other’s experiences to inspire them to write poems. We were happy to be able to provide a modest stipend to participating poets.
One of the great surprises we first found is that one of the gardeners is already a published poet: David Wilson. We are happy to have his poem written about the garden, “A Pleasant Place” included in our project. Two local poets, Letta Neely and Pharess Marie, took inspiration from the garden for their poems. We also received a poem from our team-member Azia Carle. In addition, we had several gardeners provide some “garden wisdom” that was full of meaning and we also included in the project.
A couple things went off script, as participatory projects often do. The African prints of the Shade-Flowers were so vibrant, we determined that painting the poems onto them would detract from both. Katherine had the inspired idea to laser-cut the words onto circular wood plaques. The permanence and precision offered by this method was in good contrast with the hand-crafted nature of the project, and provided a dignified way to showcase the carefully crafted words of our garden and local poets.
Another re-alignment for the project resulted from the windy nature of the site: on a particularly windy day, the Shade-Flowers took off like sails into the nearby gardens. The gardeners were gracious in their response and gathered them to safety. We determined that, rather than dispersing the Pollinator Pots throughout the garden as initially planned, we would congregate them to provide shade and a lively showcase by the very well used central pavilion.
Cross Pollination unfolded over several weeks where we gathered at Nightingale Community Garden. Our workshops were:
Planting & Poetry
Sewing & Making
Poetry & Painting
The work of the workshops blended together, and the residents that came were often surprised by the beautiful green oasis hidden in plain sight in their neighborhood.
One rewarding aspects of the project lay in the collaboration with Melissa Nussbaum Freeman’s winning project, “Celebrate + Activate.” We shared the same fabric for the Shade-Flowers and her Gardener Celebration Flags from the beginning.
We came together fully in our final event, Celebrate Together. As Cross Pollination Poets read what they had written, Melissa’s Red Sage Stories Playback Theater performed theatrical interpretations that brought the poems to life.
View the poems and commemorative program - click on the images below to scroll through.