Monday, May 10, 2021

Remembering and Forgetting: Toward an #EcologicalCity #EarthCelebrations


Earth Celebrations and a Tower of Toys at 6B Garden. 

All week long, I thought about the parable of the unclean spirit, by Sara Eliza Johnson:

“You can’t remember ... Your loneliness isn’t welcome here, you know, but still you walk the dream-lit village, looking for someone gentle enough…”

Walking through the city, along the concrete streets, forgetting and remembering duel.

The green spaces remind me.

For years, we’ve encountered Earth Celebrations of the East Village, art parades and dramas, dueling garden spirits and machines, oil spills and renewable energy, an opera of urban conflict and models of regeneration.

These are spaces where we find fellow souls in the dream village Johnson sees.

I saw them in Brad Will and Elizabeth Meixell in that Spring 1999 Earth Celebrations, dressed as garden creatures, marching from garden to garden, welcoming and inviting us all into their nether reality.

Saturday 2021 was a similar kind of day.

There was Eric, who always participates, chatting away as the puppets marched through the village streets, from garden to garden, looking for something.

Its better to believe in and embrace that abundance, says Eric, to offer that image of a dreamscape.

But this is also New York City, where kids bruise their knees on the sidewalk and bulldozers pave over paradise, displacing friends of the garden.

Still green spaces remain, taking shape out of the ruble.

In a garden you always have a friend.

“Look a baby,” I said to the little one 15 years ago after she scraped her knee on Avenue B, pointing her at Eddie Boros’ ‘Tower of Toys,” a 65-foot-high garden sculpture, full of toys, at 6B Garden.

It was one of those moments when our quiet kid found a bit of love of the whimsical in this concrete jungle.

“Man oh man speak up and tell us something true and how are we to proceed to find the lost city,” writes Lawrence Ferlinghetti, nearing his hundredth year in Little Boy.

I’ve spent the last two decades looking for that lost space, as the city reinvents itself, neighborhood after neighborhood, developers rezoning away their distinct details.

The tower in the garden, the green spaces seem to evoke a lost world.

Some days, I think I’m getting closer to finding it, sitting contemplating the ecological city we find in the gardens of the East Village, bikes and gardeners zipping to and from, ideas moving, mixing their own distinct models sustainable urbanism.

I certainly felt it outside the 6th Street Community Center greeting friends getting ready for the parade, greeting Chelsea and Dee Dee and their compostable cargo bike, along with the other participants.

Standing at the 11th Street Garden, listening to NATE & HILA sing their compost song, “Get wormy....don’t throw away that food waste...make it compost....

I felt it walking through the streets with the others carrying puppets, thinking about the garden heroes, exploring the eco metropolis, the gardens created out of sweat equity.  They seem to represent the best of what the city can be, with eyes on the street, classrooms for urban ecological education, community organization, and green development. The irony of course is that each garden that improves the city, makes it more livable, and marketable.

These are spaces where we learn from each other, create art, sleep, dream, and find something else for ourselves.

The dance performances are more majestic each year, dueling bodies in the garden, a swirl of red, purple, green, and yellow, battling tides and spills, outrageous fortune.

It’s a long majestic march.

After two and a half hours, I have to peel off, dropping my puppet off at Howard’s Community Center, where other volunteers were leaving materials and recharging.

A three-hour tour would be ideal for us.

The opera of the ecological city has to be sustainable itself.

After the rain, the teenager, who used to be scared of the old Gaia vs the machine dance performances in the parade, joins me at 6B, walking through the garden, looking at the flowers, wondering about the space where the old garden Tower of Toys used to stand.

It was there from from 1985 until 2008 when the city tore it down. 

The eco city is always opening and closing, repelling and renewing, inviting us to find something here, something of ourselves, even when we forget. Sometimes a green map or a procession helps remind us.

They help us remember in this dream village.


Earth Celebrations’ ECOLOGICAL CITY Art & Climate Solutions – POP-UP PAGEANT



EARTH CELEBRATIONS – 638 East Sixth Street (btw Aves B & C)

11th STREET EAST SIDE OUTSIDE GARDEN @ 11th St. NE Corner btw. 1st and Ave. A
PERFORMANCE – Compost Song – Nate & Hila

NATE & HILA – Nate and Hila are an artistic duo creating music videos and live shows about environmental philosophy and social justice. They’re based in NYC, and are the resident rappers at Brooklyn’s House of Yes. 2020 saw the debut of their original live show Naughty for Nature, a musical exploration of the sexual behavior of animals…

EL SOL BRILLANTE GARDEN @ 12th Street btw. Aves A & B
PERFORMANCE – Dance to the People “Birth of a Garden”
GARDEN – CLIMATE SOLUTION – Upcycling & Sustainable Solutions

DANCE TO THE PEOPLE is a female and immigrant led collective of dancers and other collaborators who work in non-hierarchical forms of art making to address social and environmental injustice. With each project we discover innovative ways to develop content and structures of movement research, choreography, training, performance and sharing, fostering horizontality in the exchange of resources in our community. We create together because we believe revolutionary art can only manifest itself through collective processes.
Performer Credits: Maira Duarte, Michelle Applebaum, Joanna Stone, Nicole Touzien, Annie Hudson.

@ 610 E. 12th  Street (btw. Aves B & C)
CLIMATE SOLUTION – Art & Science Education

PERFORMANCE – “Scrappy the Compost Monster”- By Susanna Brock, Jessica Cortez, and Emily Baldwin

Susanna, Jessica, and EmilySusanna, Jessica, and Emily, are theatre artists who are passionate about creating interactive and educational experiences that address social justice issues. Susanna is a teaching artist and theater maker specializing in puppetry and early learning. Jessica is an educator, fiber artist, and performer. Both Susanna and Jessica are graduates of the CUNY School of Professional Studies MA in Applied Theatre program. Emily is a native New Yorker and will be starting the MA in Applied Theatre program at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London this fall.

@ 12th  Street btw. Aves B & C
PERFORMANCE – Poem For Sustainable Urban Agriculture by Steve Dalachinsky
In memory of Steve Dalachinsky (9. 29. 1946 – 9. 16. 2019)
Performed byMindy Levokove
GARDEN – CLIMATE SOLUTION – Vertical Farming & Sustainable Agriculture

STEVE DALACHINSKY. Poet & Collagist. He wrote poetry, haiku, music criticism, CD liner notes, travelogues & had a long running column: Outtakes in The Brooklyn Rail. His publications include The Final Nite: A Complete Notes from a Charles Gayle Notebook 1987-2006 (Ugly Duckling Presse); Superintendent’s Eyes (Autonomedia); Reaching Into The Unknown (RogueArt); Flying Home (Paris-Lit-Up); Fool’s Gold (Feral Press); Black Magic (New Feral Press); Where Night and Day become One (great weather for MEDIA) & others along w/ many collaboration CDs w/ musicians such as Matthew Shipp, Joëlle Léandres & The Snobs. He received PEN Oakland National Book Award; Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres; Acker Award; Kafka Award & Benjamin Franklin Award

MINDY LEVOKOVE a long time friend of Steve and Yuko’s, is honored to read Steve’s poem, today. A multi-media performance poet; a member of the writing groups: Brevitas, and Heresies, she sings for peace and dances for water.  Mindy studies and teaches qigong and Tai Chi, and tutors writing students. A 20-plus-years member of the 6th Street and Avenue B Community Garden, she curates Poetry and Prose in the Garden. This year she published a poetry collection, Mount Eden Avenue.

@ 9th  Street & Ave. C (NE corner)
PERFORMANCE – ‘Song for Solar & Sustainable Earth’ by Stephan Said

STEPHAN SAID is an internationally acclaimed musician and activist whose songs have helped build movements for peace, human rights, and global justice across the world. He is also the host of “borderless,” a docs-series and global movement lifting the voices of people doing amazing things to make a better world. Stephan has been featured in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, NPR, PRI, BBC, NBC, CBS, Democracy Now!, Al Arabiya, ORF, Deutsche Welle, and more.

@ 9th  Street & Ave. C (SW corner)
PERFORMANCES: Birth of Climate Solutions– Global Water Dances, Martha Eddy
PERFORMERS: Martha Eddy, Dafna Soltes-Stein, Patti Miss Vernam, Lucy Passaro, Wendy Joseph, Jeonghae Jones.

Birth of a Garden Dance 
– Dance Entropy – Valerie Green
Pollution Pirates – Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space with Time’s Up, Jim Simopoulos
Battle – Pollution & Covid Monster – Keith Saari
Orator – Armand Ruhlman
GARDEN – CLIMATE SOLUTION – Sustainable Community Culture

VALERIE GREEN – DANCE ENTROPY – “Birth of a Garden” Dance

Valerie Green has been an active dancer, choreographer and teacher in the NYC dance community since 1995.  She created her own company, Dance Entropy in 1998, adding a permanent company home in 2005 called Green Space.  To date Ms. Green has created 40 dances and 10 evening length works.  Her choreography has been seen throughout NYC and Internationally she has taught and performed in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Austria, France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Russia, India, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Slovenia, Sweden Guatemala, Cuba and Canada.

MARTHA EDDY – GLOBAL WATER DANCES NY / Marymount Manhattan College Martha Eddy, CMA, RSMT uses body consciousness to enhance our capacity to protect water and the planet. She is a co-founder of the biennial worldwide environmental dance event that brought 120 sites registered (and growing) on 6 continents.  GWD 2021 is June 8-13. Martha created Moving For Life in NYC, which offers free movement and wellness classes in libraries, centers and hospitals in all five boroughs and throughout the world. Current online attract older adults, and people of all ages in  treatment or recovery from cancer or other chronic diseases. Martha leads movement choirs for conferences and brings Global Water Dances to environmental justice actions that focus on local or global issues. She is author of Mindful Movement.

@ 8th Street btw. Aves B & C
PERFORMANCE & GARDENER – Bio-Swale Serenade by Elizabeth Ruf

ELIZABETH RUF MALDONADO is a director, actor, writer, educator, and maker of socially engaged performances across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. With Karl Bateman she is a co-founder of the guitar-and-vocal duo the Head Peddlers. Her work is frequently seen at Theater for the New City (TNC) and in NYC Community Gardens. She is a professor at Boricua College. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater from Columbia University and wrote her dissertation on the theater of Cuba, where she lived for a year. She recently acted as music director and choreographer of “Live Free or Die” from Michael Shenker’s masterwork, A Squatter’s Opera, performed at TNC. A member of the former ABC Garden and Co-founder of De Colores Community Yard on East 8th Street, she has been collaborating with Earth Celebrations as the Community Spirit, Iris the Rainbow, and other roles since the early 1990s and is the mother of one of the Butterfly Children.

@ Ave C btw. 8th & 7th St.
GARDENER CEREMONY: Sustainable Garden by Carolyn Ratcliffe

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