Ten Thousand Suns is a summer-long botanical performance started in the Summer of 2016 in which over 10,000 sunflower seeds were planted and nurtured over the course of the summer months on land that until recently sat under a highway, with high compaction, low-organic material, and embedded with toxicity. A portion of the performance is simply the presence of the community members who volunteered to care for the field, with no other motive than “developing” a garden/park for everyone to enjoy.
The results from last year: After a long hot and dry couple of months, the first sunflower bloomed, and soon after others joined, like a slow fireworks display taking place in the coming weeks. It was now finally quite evident what we were up to all summer and the land became activated with a flurry of people inhabiting the space for a variety of unplanned intentions, including yoga, picnics, and music. The response was incredible. The simple joy that a simple flower could bring to people was the most consistent of comments I received, and one of my favorites, a young girl out with her mother on their evening stroll always insisted they go “the sunflower way.”
I found these responses rewarding, but perhaps even more so was the conversations I had through the summer as people approached me to ask about the project, and formed many new friendships I might of otherwise not of made. Simply seeing people take initiative to cultivate an idea seemed to evoke a new appreciation for what the urban landscape in Providence could be, raising the expectations for quality site-sensitive development that will inevitably one day be built on this land.
The New Proposal
Building upon the success of 10,000 Suns from the Summer and Fall of 2016, the project looks to add certain layers based on community feedback and lessons learned from last season to improve the growth and health of the sunflowers.
Watering was an issue in 2016 and the hours spent keeping the project going will be reduced this year by implementing a necessary, temporary, and simple irrigation system. It was also evident that the soil quality of the parcel was not conducive to optimal growth so we are looking for considerable addition of compost.
The added layers mentioned previously aim to make the field not only aesthetically significant but a place for respite. We propose relocating the strange border of granite curbs and repurposing them for seating amongst the sunflowers (seating was the most common request from the community). For simple shade for these areas we propose using a series of scattered Lombardy Poplar trees, which are very fast growing, tolerable to tough urban conditions, and with wonderful gold fall color.
Within each of the center of the circles of sunflowers, this year we propose an added surprise in each, whether it be a painted red piano, a set dining or chess table, or other interesting curiosity.
Also new to this we year we are proposing to expand the project to the adjacent parcel. The addition creates a “river of meadow and sunflowers” and constructs a 10’ high landform with a winding grass path to the top, creating a unique perspective to the city and sunflower field. Two smaller landforms create more intimate seating spaces. This “River of Flowers” would be composed of both sunflowers and wildflower meadow mix.
Please help us in the creation of this unique crowdfunded park for Providence.
Risks and challenges
Some of the challenges we learned last year we are addressing with new additions to the project. We hope to add a temporary irrigation to create an efficient time and water-saving system, which will allow the project to thrive in both dry and wet periods. Given the popularity of last year's project we are also looking to expand our volunteer base to attend to the continued maintenance of the project throughout the summer.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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