Accidental Migrants

ACCIDENTAL MIGRANTS

Maine’s forests were severed in the first wave of colonialism as European settlers reaped the rich resources of this land. Felled trees were first used to build ships, then were carried off to construct plantations through the Caribbean, laying in place colonial structures of systematized racism that persist today. Indigenous practices in both geographies are helping to heal the land, recognizing that non-human species are essential members of our communities.

Haitian-centered organizations effectively support re-wilding & Eco-cultural restoration:

The Lambi Fund of Haiti: www.lambifund.org

SAKALA: www.sakala-haiti.org/agronomy/

Sadhana Forest: www.sadhanaforest.org/haiti/

SOIL: www.oursoil.org

HUMMINGBIRD Habitat

Hummingbird Habitat

Northeastern native flowers loved by hummingbirds include bee balm, blue lobelia, butterfly weed, cardinal flower, columbine, foxgloves, jewelweed, New Jersey tea, shadbush, Soloman’s seal and virgin’s bower. They have a tubular shape and generally grow upright. Plant these as large clumps and as a succession of blooms to welcome hummingbirds to your garden through the season.

Creating vertical structure in a garden will produce an inviting habitat. Shrubs, small trees and canopy trees planted together with flower gardens and a water source will provide for their needs.

Avoid Pesticides and keep cats away!

MOWING for Wildlife

Mowing in summer is severely disruptive

MOW in NOVEMBER or APRIL

Pollinators need flowers!!
Mowing in summer causes pollen and nectar to disappear – reducing the number of insects. The easiest way to install a Pollinator Pathway is to STOP mowing from May through October!
Farmers who harvest hay may consider leaving strips to grow out along field edges, or around the periphery of their farms.

Birds need insects & SEEDS!
Some birds eat insects…if flowers are cut & insect populations decline, birds loose this food source.

Grassland nesting birds are some of the most endangered. Mowing their nesting grounds before their young fledge drains the population.

Many birds eat seedheads. When flowers are cut mid summer, they do not have time to seed out to feed migrating birds as they return south. It takes away an important winter food source for resident birds.

SEEDS regenerate!!
Allowing seedheads to fully ripen regenerates the population of flowering plants that feed wildlife.

TIPS for maintaining an open meadows

Alternate Areas
While it is important to mow to maintain open meadows, we only need to mow every other year. Leaving un-mown areas over the winter increases habitat for mammals and birds who overwinter here.

SPOT mowing targets aggressive foreign grasses to suppress them and revive flora populations.

Human pathways may be mown through the meadows to increase ease of access for walking and observing the life that will burst forth when open meadow ecology is restored.

Mown path borders along bushes will keep them at bay.

Great Maine Outdoor Weekend

Art is for the BIRDS!!

The Great Maine Outdoors Weekend encourages people to get outside! This year, the Blue Hill Heritage Trust is working with Lee Lee of the SEED Barn on a participatory sculpture that will be woven directly into the landscape in the Kingdom Woods Conservation Area. Part of the Open Air Arts Initiative, this arts workshop invites community members to collaborate on a sculpture that will provide winter shelter for birds, aesthetically integrating material from young oak trees that were recently cleared to preserve the heirloom blueberry field. Extending the flow of existing natural forms which stand prominently in the landscape, participants will weave the branches together, keeping in mind the space needed by bunnies to burrow and birds to flutter. In the process, contributors can explore ways we may integrate organic detritus offer winter protection for resident species in a way that piques visual interest. The Open-Air Arts Initiative is a collaboration between the SEED Barn, Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Cynthia Winings Gallery. Its mission is to use nature to ignite creativity in the young people who live on or visit the Blue Hill Peninsula.

Drawing inspiration from the land immersed arts movement of the west, Lee Lee has been bringing a new kind of community arts practice to the Blue Hill Peninsula. Working with only materials found on site, she has invited the public to work together in weaving sculptures through the landscapes around the Blue Hill Peninsula. Through the spring, she collaborated with local students to build sculptural pollinator homes. As the season transitions into fall, she is working with the wider community on ways we may increase habitat for birds through the series birdSEED.

Sculpting branches that we trim out of the garden challenges the popular but somewhat misplaced notion that tidy yards are superior. In fact, tangles of woody brush are essential habitat for birds, small mammals as well as pollinators. Downeast Audubon director, Leslie Clapp describes ways we may creatively incorporate winter protection for resident birds into our domestic spheres at home; “Building brush piles is fun and you can be as creative as you wish.  Some look like tepees, some porcupines, others bee hives. You can plant vines which cover them for more interest.  Sometimes I put a base of logs (in log cabin style) and then weave the sticks in through the logs so they stand upright. The major thing is not to pack them too tightly so the critters can’t get in.  I keep adding to some year after year because they do break down.”

Complementing the weaving of thicket style shelter for the birds, ongoing seasonal workshops hosted by the SEED barn demonstrate how to ferment and sow fresh native stone fruit seeds. Native species like wild cherries, elderberry, mountain ash and an array of viburnum and dogwoods not only feed the birds but provide important nectar sources for pollinators in the early spring.  Because fruit is an inhibitor to seed germination, it needs to be cleaned off thoroughly; as if it has passed through the gut of a bird, bear or moose. The process of mimicking bird digestion is easily replicated at home by smashing a bunch of fruit to a pulp in a Ziploc bag. Over the course of about ten days, mashing the bag daily, the bubbles of fermentation form in the macerated fruit then settle. At this point, the seeds may be cleaned by immersing them in fresh water, massaging any remaining fruit off the seed, swirling the pulp in a bowl of water and pouring off the macerated fruit. Viable seeds will sink in the vortex of the swirl, while the fruit will be picked up by the current and easily poured off. These seeds cannot dry out, so need to be planted fresh. They may be stored immersed in vermiculite in the same plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator until the season shifts; then planted right before the ground freezes. 

Supported in part by a project grant from the Maine Arts Commission, birdSEED will continue the following week with a public workshop on taming invasive bittersweet and barberry at the Blue Hill Consolidated School on September 29th.

¡Pollinate! Artsweek at GSA

Pollinator sculpture hung from the trees

Broadening perceptions of HOME to include outdoor spaces beyond our walls helps cultivate an understanding of the interrelationships between humans and pollinators. As for humans, good homes for pollinators include plenty of food, safe access to water and shelter, and enough space to raise the next generation. Developing the awareness of what is available beyond our fencelines, we may fill in the gaps to support movement of pollinators through our own spheres. The movement of pollinators like bees, butterflies, beetles & moths is highly localized. During the spring we think about the ways that pollinators navigate our gardens, filling in gaps in bloom time with native flowers and ensure there is enough tufting grass to provide protection. In this workshop, students from the George Stevens Academy constructed pollinator homes out of hollow stems, drilled holes in dead wood and sculpted stacks of branches in the staghorn sumac grove above Wardwell Pasture during their Artsweek creative workshops. We used material from a tree that had needed to be cleared because of the proximity to the road by which it had fallen because we don’t like to disrupt in-tact ecologies by taking out materials that make up existing systems. Our tools included a drill, hacksaw, twine, hammer and a single nail. The sculptures persisted through the seasons, slowly melting back into the landscape over time.

Neo Rio: Pollinators, Plants & People

Invited to be a part of Neo Rio 2016: Pollinators, Plants & People, the Debris Project was integrated into a part of the installation called ADRIFT, which looked at the chemical impacts on pollinators. Neo Rio is an annual arts event hosted by LEAP (Land, Environment & Art of Place) at the Montoso campground in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. LEAP provides opportunities to deepen our appreciation and understanding of and relationship to our environments and our human and non-human neighbors; to increase our commitment to protecting these places and relationships and fostering creative responses and expressions of them in contemporary art and culture.

ADRIFT was installed in the man-made structure of the campsite, which had a view of the Chevron Questa mine. Because mining releases substantial chemicals into watersheds, and chemical body burdens are intimately tied to plastic pollution, this setting was ideal to present the chemical impacts on our watersheds. Included in the installation were post industrial western landscapes of oil refineries in Commerce City & Sinclair Wyoming, as well as an aerial view of the DOW chemical plant in Texas. DEBRIS tiles were hung vertically as flags to withstand the strong winds that whip across the top of the Rio Grande gorge. The images were representations of native pollinating water insects created with Oceans First in Boulder, Colorado during a spring session earlier in the year. Weighting down the flags was a plastic toy dinosaur; a reminder that the source of endocrine disrupting chemicals is fossil fuels.

View from the ADRIFT installation at the Montoso campground towards the Chevron Questa Mine looming in the distance. Chevron is confronted by years of remediation work after the mine recently shut down.

Gaea McGahee explores DEBRIS tiles at night as the Neo Rio event rambles on around the campfire.

Printed matter: preparation of tiles made earlier in the spring by Oceans First students in Boulder, Colorado. The students focused on creating plastic representations of flies found in watersheds throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

Making DEBRIS tiles into vertical hanging flags to withstand the winds that whip across the top of the gorge.

Hanging the flags: weighting down the vertical flags is a reminder of the source of plastic and the chemicals in the form of a plastic toy dinosaur.

Exploring the broader theme of pollination, the works installed in the ADRIFT section included butterflies, here represented as flags hung under a painting of the DOW chemical plant. The butterflies were conveyed as voids to echo the decimation of habitat monarchs are facing now because of heavy use of chemicals in agriculture. The central flag is a re-purposed plastic pro-cor plate created in collaboration with Susanna Mitchell as part of the Monarch project.

Detail of a butterfly flag with degraded plastic filling the void.

A deflated plastic bee balloon was stung up in a dead tree to serve as a flag marking the path between the ADRIFT installation and HOME. The HOME installation was a hands on activity station that explored how pollinators like bees are essential to human nourishment. Providing a solution to the challenges pollinators face now, local wildflower seeds were offered to participants to take home to their own gardens in order to provide habitat for pollinators.

OCHO | Printmaking with Plants Workshop

Monoprint plate

As part of the ¡Pollinate! series of events initiated by LEAP (Land, Experience & Art of Place), OCHO Art Space hosted a printmaking with plants workshop. We explored the marks made with native plants that support pollinators, working with forms made directly from the seeds and layering ghost prints to create rich textures in the final prints. It was a starting point for participants to weave into their creative practice by looking at the potential offered by material gathered in the field. Jan Simonsen Martenson from the New Mexico Native Plant Society joined us and brought a whole host of native seeds to incorporate into the work.

The workshop was attached to the exhibition, ¡Pollinate! Art Show: Small is Beautiful at OCHO, which led into the annual outdoor festival, NeoRio 2016: Plants, Pollen + Pollinators at the Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers, Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. NeoRio features artist talks and site specific art installations on the rim of the gorge followed by an art-filled evening celebration of music, poetry and a locally sourced feast.

Lynda Jasper Vogel peels elements off her plate
Barrie Andrews offers aesthetic guidance
First and second runs by Lynda Jasper Vogel. The ghost print was incorporated into the second run, layered with plants that had picked up ink from the first run, flipped over to transfer detail from the plant material.
Jan Simonson Martenson starts a new plate and works through the process of printing the ghost images layered with the ‘inked’ plant material.
The first run prints the plants as silhouettes.
Plants are flipped over and layered with the ghost image for the second run.
The second run offers a layered effect
Jan Simonson Martenson examining her plate
Surprise and delight fill the air – this was Jan’s first exposure to printmaking
Moisture from the plant material can create a resist around the plant and make them appear as if they are ‘glowing’
Ghost print of the ‘glowing’ plate
Jean Frey examines her ghost print
Silhouettes & Ghosts – side by side