Sunday, July 26, 2009

HOPE on ACADEMY is an opportunity for an organized and safe, yet loosely structured, mentoring arrangement that will help make Roberto Clemente Children's Garden, on Academy Street, in Trenton, NJ, more accessible for caring adults to interact with children who live and play along a street that has gardens supported by Isles, Inc., a pool, a playground, spectacular architecture and a public library - to marvel at the wonder of nature and life, to read, to learn, to sing, to dance or to just daydream on a butterfly shaped bench in a sanctuary of hope.

On July 18th, 2009,
Central Jersey Cultural Art Expression and partners celebrated the spirit of Joe Bird at the Roberto Clemente Park Children's Garden on Academy Street in Trenton with a celebration of butterflies and a Pot Luck Picnic.

Ange Chianese (a.k.a. Garbanzo, the Human Bean) and his funny friend helped everyone clown around to honor the creative, magical, gentle and playful spirit of his old friend, Joe.

The event featured music,juggling, magic and kite making/flying and was organized to raise awareness about the 'No Child Left Inside' network that advocates the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of outdoor play in nature.

Joe Bird, was a Trenton area community activist who devoted his life quietly and without fanfare to the preservation of open lands, the well-being of children and acts of kindness.
He worked behind the scenes to help preserve open space all around the Trenton area. His modesty and the scope of his good works was not fully revealed until many who knew and loved him gathered to mourn his untimely death in 1997. The butterfly garden at Roberto Clemente Park was planted in his honor in 2007 to inspire children to connect with nature and learn from his example.

The benches below were installed by students from Isles Youthbuild School on a day that also drew student volunteers from TCNJ to plant flowers and bushes that attract butterflies.

Below is a song that grew from planning this project after a jam at an inspiring music improv hosted by Ange. It is based on a beautiful story called Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus, that he recommended I read. It is described as a tale 'partly about life, partly about revolution and lots about hope for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read).

It turns out that Tina has been working for peace and raising butterflies for many years in North Jersey and we have a mutual friend. I have been in contact with her and I, literally, have her blessings to use images from her story