As most everyone knows, honeybees and other pollinators are in real peril. Not uncoincidentally, our food system, which is rooted in long-distance transportation, is in dire straits. Our goal with Flight Path is to change that. At the nation's 15th busiest airport, we will create a new model for land use, public-private partnership, and cultural engagement nation-wide.
Produced by the non-profit organization The Common Acre, with support from the Port of Seattle and Urban Bee Company, Flight Path will turn scrub land into pollinator habitat, raise better bees, and transform a corner of the concourse into a sparkling art and education exhibit.
Already, eighteen beehives have been installed and will be the source for naturally-raised, chemical-free local bee stock, to be offered to local beekeepers. This will help reduce our dependence on the narrow and unhealthy genetics of the commercial bees, and help support our local food economy.
Additionally, we will use footage from the hives, other site data, and visual art from the region's best artists to create an exhibit inside the terminal, which will be unveiled in January 2014 and stay up for a year.
Land reclamation, a long-term process, has begun by identifying 50 acres of land to transform over the next three years from scrub lands to pollinator habitat and possibly a seed farm for local wildflowers.
Phase 1 is underway: we have received permission from the airport, gotten all of our security clearances and installed the first hives in April and May. We have also worked with the curatorial team at the airport to identify space, begun meeting with artists and production staff and plotting the installation.
Donations from our sponsors and partners have helped cover some of the costs over the 20 months of development for the project. Income from honey will help sustain it down the road. Right now we have significant operational costs for starting up the hives and also for establishing the art and education exhibit, which will reach millions.
This Kickstarter campaign — which depends on you! — will help cover the start-up costs, and is crucial to our long-term success. Please make a tax-deductible contribution today!
This project has been organized by Bob Redmond for The Common Acre, an organization founded in 2010 originally as Essential Arts, and which recently received its 501c3 authorization. Core co-producers are Kate Fernandez, Rod Hatfield, Amy Baranski, and Charlie Spitzack, with collective experience managing and directing programs at some of Seattle's most established organizations including Bumbershoot, Town Hall Seattle, Experience Music Project, Smoke Farm, the Capitol Hill Arts Center, Spaceboat, and others. We will involve 30 - 40 regional artists, with additional involvement from local scientists, engineers, and designers.
The Port of Seattle is the nation's 15th busiest airport, with 34 million visitors per year. This project was inspired by related work in Chicago, as well as Frankfurt, Germany, and Düsseldorf, Germany.
Urban Bee Company is a progressive urban agricultural organization in Seattle, with a focus on bees, habitat, and sustainable agriculture. They deliver honey by bicycle and operate numerous apiaries in community gardens.
Risks and challenges
A primary challenge and risk is working with the Port of Seattle, which manages the airport. Such a large bureacracy moves slowly and sometimes capriciously. The good news is that in the two years we have been working with the Port on this project, we have developed a great relationship with them and can navigate that bureaucracy with some aplomb. On the other hand, facility needs (both indoors and out) might demand our flexibility. We are planning to be as nimble as possible on the bee management side and for the exhibit to be modular in case those needs arise.
Another challenge is the logistics of the exhibit itself: ideally it will be user-proof, but with millions of visitors to the airport, with babies, luggage, and other unpredicable behavior, not to mention that there is no "museum staff" at the airport, the exhibit may need more maintenance than we planned. To address this we are already planning periodic changes to the content, which will allow us to adjust to meet the logisitcal needs of the site.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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