Urban Sanctuaries

Urban Sanctuaries

Topic:  Nature as the Beloved

Sub topics:  how has nature helped you ( or saved your life)

One sentence goal:  Engage teens and adults in seeking an increased connection to nature in our urban environment through photography, outdoor exploration, art making, and story telling.

Details of our discussion:

We talked about the desire to stimulate people, especially teens, to look more closely at the natural world available in the city.  There are a number of ways we can envision accomplishing this.

The main objective is to help people look for natural, healing spaces in the city.

Our discussion centered on several ideas:  1) holding a workshop at a city park where we would encourage participants to look for spaces that could serve as sanctuaries and encourage them to modify the spaces to suit them.  Participants would then come together and show the spaces to each other and talk about what appeals to them.  Or we could ask participants to choose a spot and sit quietly and observe what kind of sensory experiences arise. 2) asking participants to take photographs of natural spaces they experience or could imagine experiencing as sanctuaries.  3) hold an art making workshop where we ask participants to create a diorama or icon of a natural space that would be a sanctuary for them. 4) ask workshop participants to share stories of a time nature has had a healing influence on them.

Initial project phase:

We decided that we would like to initiate the project by expanding on the photography idea.  Since we would especially like to engage young people, we discussed setting up a contest using instagram to collect images.  We would ask participants to post photos of healing natural places using the hashtag #urbansanctuariesmn . We would then choose five images from among the submissions and have them printed as large posters that we could display on buildings.  We would also look for a place to have a show – ideally a coffee shop or other accessible venue.

We would publicize the project at various schools – Layl suggested getting in touch with the “green  tigers” (an environmental student organization at South High School).  Claudia would publicize the project at Avalon Charter School and Susan would use her connections to Marcy Open School to engage students there.  We could also set up a Facebook page for the project.

We also discussed getting some input from high school students on how best to publicize the program.

Claudia can contact St. Paul artists to gather information on printing costs and logistics from organizers of the Lowertown Artists Portraits project.

Susan will get in touch with the Sierra Club, which has an urban youth program, to see whether they would be willing to support us.  In the beginning phase we are envisioning that they financial support needed is small and would come from us.

Once we made our presentation and heard the presentation of the “Recovering Eden – places to gather” project it sounded like there could be some possibilities for collaboration between the two projects.


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