This summer, along with the Ceramic Stories gardening and storytelling sessions (more on those soon), I’ve done a pop-up park event with the New York Restoration Project and ran a planting-sensory table at Art in The Park’s autism family fun day.
I love having the opportunity to work outside in the summer, it’s a nice change of pace from classrooms and opens up whole new forms of engagement.
At the Sherman Creek pop-up park event, I set up a community mural for people to fill out.
I used a long roll of white butcher paper, glued on a green construction paper stem, yellow center, and asked “What makes Inwood Bloom?” Admittedly, I got some help from NYRP's education with the lettering since I don't have the neatest handwriting.
The activity being to fill out the flower with people's favorite things about the uptown community. I pre-cut petals of teal, red, and pink for people to write their answers and then glue on, creating a mural of flower petals that extended across the paper. Some of the most common answers were “the people” and “the parks” and I’m inclined to agree.
For Art in the Park’s Autism Family Fun Day I ran a table with flower pot painting and planting. It was a condensed version of the three-week Ceramic Stories programs I run with NYRP. Since this was a one day event I had families come and paint the pots, not necessarily creating a story, just having fun.
Once the painting was done I left them to dry and told the families to come back in a few minutes to do the planting. There was a lot to do at the fun day, so it was an easy enough request. There was grilling going on (including black bean burgers for the veggies like me!), non-profits tabling, sensory spaces, and a table full of free books that was run by a speech therapist.
When they were dry and the families came back, I had the kids add the soil, seeds (marigolds or poppies), a little bit of water, and then sent them on their way with some care instructions. The soil and seeds for the planting were donated by Urban Garden Center, an amazing garden store in East Harlem. If you’re in NYC check them out next time you have any gardening needs!
The event was a huge success! Shawnique, the Art in the Park director, had one-hundred people signed up on the eventbrite and I imagine most, if not all, showed up along with families who came off the street when they heard the fun! We went through all the pots and paint over the course of the day and a lot of families left with new plants to care for!
Events like these makes the summers so fun, but it also makes them fly by! The second session of Ceramic Stories will be starting next week in Sherman Creek and it’s hard to believe that’s already here!