Poetry Pollinators on the Santa Fe River is an eco-poetry public art project initiative led by Elizabeth Jacobson, current Santa Fe Poet Laureate, and poet-activist Julie Chase-Daniel with the support of the City of Santa Fe River Commission and Parks and Recreation Department, the Santa Fe Watershed Association, and representatives from the Santa Fe County Commission and the Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department.
The proposal is to establish one to four permanent native bee pollinator houses along the Santa Fe River that will each integrate a panel for project information and present one poem that will be changed out seasonally, at the solstices & equinoxes. The permanently installed bee houses will be commissioned from local artists in a juried selection process, while ongoing curation of the poetry will be managed by Jacobson and Chase-Daniel. Funding and necessary technical support is currently being sought from public and private sources.
The goal is to create a dynamic public art project that engages the talent of local artists & poets for the mutual benefit of our native eco-system and the Santa Fe River and Watershed as a living artery that unites diverse Santa Fe communities, from the east side at Upper Canyon Road to south side neighborhoods as far as Agua Fria Village and beyond.
Bee Houses as Public Art
Wild native pollinator bees do not make hives or produce honey. The photos in this proposal show bee houses installed as public art projects in a wide variety of sizes & shapes that require minimal long-term care and maintenance.
Construction of native pollinator bee houses has increased across the country in an effort to save bee populations, increase bio-diversity, and support native plants that are increasingly at risk due to multiple ecological and anthropogenic challenges. There are over a thousand wild, native bee species in New Mexico, comprising nearly 25% of wild bee populations in the United States. As a key region for supporting US wild bee populations, New Mexico has an important role to play in this growing national movement.
Ground and cavity nesters, native bees are highly efficient pollinators that are not aggressive and rarely sting since they have no hive, honey, or queen to protect. Native bees pollinate our local wild flowers, shrubs, and trees, as well as edible plants, fruits, and vegetables from backyard gardens to full scale farms.
Locally, public art bee houses can be seen in the Santa Fe Railyard Park, at the Santa Fe Audubon Center, and at the Open Space Visitors’ Center in Albuquerque. All are beautiful, low-maintenance, sculptural structures that are built to provide nesting habitat for a variety of native bee species.
Poetry as Public Art
Poetry in public space brightens spirits, amplifies a sense of shared community, and draws the attention and delight of guests from near and far. Across the country, throughout the world, and for centuries, poets and artists have engaged public space as a foil and field for poetic epiphanies and ruminations. Poetry Pollinators on the Santa Fe River would offer an enduring vehicle to showcase the work of New Mexico youth and adult poets laureate, facilitate outdoor poetry events, and connect the vital work of our local artists & poets with that of our native plants, animals, and waterways to celebrate and support the diverse eco-system that connects us as one community, sustainable across all differences and divides.
El Parque del Rio and the Santa River Greenway
As a permanent public art installation, Poetry Pollinators serves as a contribution to combatting climate change, helping mend a variety of ecosystems both practically and poetically. One immediate benefit will be increasing awareness of the Santa Fe River Watershed and cultivating enjoyment of El Parque del Rio and the Santa Fe River Greenway, an ambitious City-County initiative which aims to tie together a linear park and multi-use trail system that will run along the river for fifteen miles when complete, from Patrick Smith Park to the waste water management facility.
Inspired by the Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto, Japan (Tetsugaku no michi), we envision multiple locations that draw people into a dynamic interaction with the river and watershed, inviting viewers to walk or ride bikes to encounter each unique installation commissioned from participating artists.
Since being named “Most Endangered River in America” in 2007, efforts to regenerate the flow and ecosystem of the Santa Fe River were undertaken with great success and remain ongoing through the tireless work of organizations such at the Santa Fe Watershed Association and The City of Santa Fe River Commission.
Poetry Pollinator Locations
At the invitation of the Santa Fe Watershed Association, the Poetry Pollinator installations will begin in the Rain Garden on West Alameda at Sicomoro Street, along the river trail by Alto/Bicentennial Park, and may grow from there to include others, such as those at the El Camino Real Trailhead on the Southside of town, Larragoite Park in the Baca Street neighborhood, and El Alamo Street and East Alameda, in the heart of the historic east side of town.
Poetry Pollinator Installation: Ownership, Budget, Upkeep
We have secured expressions of support from the Santa Fe Watershed Association, the City of Santa Fe River Commission and Parks Department, and a member of the Santa Fe County Commission, and are now seeking financial support through grants and private contributions.
The plan is to establish a series of up to four permanent Poetry Pollinator installations in partnership with civic, institutional, and private stakeholders in the management, enjoyment, and beneficial use of the river & watershed corridor. We are prepared to bring this project to fruition by engaging in necessary fundraising from multiple sources including grant-making organizations, businesses, and individuals, as well as helping manage the artist commission process and related public outreach for each installation.
All four installations will be unique and do not need to match in size, style, or cost. A budget of $2,500 would be likely be adequate for one modest bee house, inclusive of artist commission, poetry panel, fabrication, installation and permitting, while we see $15,000 for something similar in scope to artist Peter Joseph’s bee house in the Railyard, which includes additional infrastructure for accessibility, seating, and viewing from all sides. On a practical level, we believe maintenance will be minimal, and can be easily incorporated into whatever systems are already in place for the locations currently in consideration.
We are currently seeking financial contributions toward a budget of $15,000 for our first Poetry Pollinator installation in the West Alameda Rain Garden.
We welcome support of all kinds. In the Family Way, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) public charity, serves as fiscal sponsorship for Poetry Pollinators, and all donations are tax-exempt to the extent of the law. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about how you might join our work. Thank you.
Phone: 505-670-5885. Email: email@example.com
Julie Chase-Daniel, a native of New Mexico, is the founder of In the Family Way, a non-profit dedicated to helping all beings thrive through creativity and the arts, and co-author of Mothering Change, an I Ching manual rooted in the feminine. She is the recipient of a National Parks Residency in the Dry Tortugas, where she and her husband, Matthew, collaborated on The Blue Fold (Axle Contemporary Press, 2017), a series of writings and photographs. Currently, Julie is working on a suite of writings to accompany a mixed-media project, Direct Exposure: Shadows of the US Border Wall, a series of large format cyanotype prints made at 100 mile intervals and other vital points along the US-Mexico border from San Diego, CA, to Brownsville, TX. She holds an MA in leadership and organizational change from California Institute of Integral Studies.
Elizabeth Jacobson, Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the author, most recently, of Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2019) which won the New Measure Poetry Prize selected by Marianne Boruch, and the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for both New Mexico Poetry and Best New Mexico Book. Elizabeth is the founding director of the WingSpan Poetry Project, a not-for-profit, which from 2013-2020 held weekly poetry classes in local shelter facilities. WingSpan has received four grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry and a Community Partners award from the Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families. She is the Reviews Editor for the online literary journal Terrain.org. and teaches poetry workshops regularly in the Santa Fe community. Elizabeth has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.
Fiscal sponsorship for Poetry Pollinators is provided by In the Family Way, a New Mexico non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity.