This past weekend I was in Lafayette, Indiana working with the Landscape Architecture prof and some of her students at Purdue University. They had gathered bunches of willows with the intent of creating some sort of structure/s in the area of the annual beds outside the Horticultural greenhouses. This was in conjunction with Spring Event on campus.
The willow had done some drying out so we couldn’t count on it to do any major bending. And some really thick and tall rods had been gathered so we could go big.
Each person came with their own ideas of what should be created. It was really fun to see how the ideas flowed, changed, evolved throughout the day on Saturday. We ended up with three fairly big structures that were open to people of all sizes to enter.
None of the structures were solidly filled in – there just wasn’t the time nor the materials to do that – but each one had some weaving on it to visually suggest walls.
The best part was watching the visitors enjoy it all! At one point there was a family of four sitting in the rounded hut, looking for all the world like they were having a meeting. One young miss was in the open top structure making design decisions about where to put the shelves and the couch.
One lad, Connor, just attached himself to us and became part of the team, planting willow rods and weaving as he deemed necessary. At one point he looked over to the prof, watched her lattice weaving and announced that she was doing pretty good with it!
Another energetic boy, Eli, looked around and then gathered some small stems and bits and pieces of the willow rods that had been used. He commenced building an “ant tipi” in the middle of the area, complete with a springboard trap to stop any intruder from getting into the ant’s home. It was quite a structure!
It was so totally awesome to have the involvement of the public – to use the work, to inspect the work, to dream in and with the work. In that regard, I think we were quite successful in our project!