seeds awesome vessels of power

`penny’s parade journal, April 16, 2013

SUN SHINE-ing.  Muchas Gracias!

Yesterday Geo and I shared a nice evening meal after another busy day doing our thing(s).  Several folks stopped in and worked on their masks and costumes, I was able to do more of the necessary BIG puppet repair work on the Sun, Otter and Forest Garden puppets, and among other things Geo continued to kindly, creatively and graciously apply his puppet-building wizardry techniques to those who asked for it.  He truly is a rock-star puppet builder and mask-maker, although a little shy about the title.  After all had departed, except for the puppets of course, we shared a wonderful, nourishing meal in the darkened lobby of Blackbird Arts. We love our parade-building homeplace!

This morning in the sun-shiney light, I found this photo of a sprouting seedling—and realize that in these spring-time—growing warm days we too are asked to become like and remember the ways of little bendable, pliable, changeable seedlings, poking-curling up and beginning a new life. Taking what we can get and making the most of it. Sun, YES! Water, YES! Wonderful Minerals and Microbiotic Minglings with our roots, YES!

Part of our list today includes getting out MORE fundraising letters as we have not even closely reached our budget, working on that magnificent swans’ neck, meeting and greeting children and youth in a couple of work parties from the Children’s Montessori House, and the Leelanau School.  It will be fun to share some of the BIG puppets with the Leelanau School kids, as they were created on-site of their school back in 2002 (I think).

Tonight, @ 6 pm, I’m looking forward to the emergence of many seed-people so that we can fit the puppets, masks, costumes AND give a little lesson in each section of the ways in which to become those characters that are telling the story of the awesome power of seeds. Puppet Movement 101 begins @ 6:00 pm

Just in case you’re reading this and suddenly have the growing, sprouting urge to come and be with us here’s this week’s schedule and parade opportunity list for you to get hands-feet-and heartmind involved:



And to finish off my daily doings here, I’ll share a photo of a fine bunch of mushrooms, made by Eamonn and his pals who will be parading in the Earth Section.  Yesterday, while applying his mycellium to his mushroom, Eamonn said, “I’ve learned more about mushrooms in the past two weeks hanging out with you guys than I have in my whole life.”  This makes us very happy about doing our serious, ridiculous puppet and parade work.

O’k gotta go.



All this sprouting business…
Here comes the Sun, being repaired after it's unfortunate encounter with smoke damage!

Here comes the Sun! Our wonderful Sun puppet is being repaired after it’s unfortunate encounter with smoke damage!



We’re sure the Sun is coming and really, really, really putting out the message that we refuse anyone raining/snowing/sleeting or high winding on our parade!

We can always find the right place for MORE community-hands to get involved in the hands-on-process of “building a parade” and would love to have our friends, families and neighbors be a part of this awesome community art project!

Here’s a few immediate Parade needs/roles/tasks:

1.) Flyer distribution and sponsor invitation along our parade route–Mon-Thursday

2.) Puppet Repair Crew—papier maiche and experience with painting or willing to have an on the spot tutorial

3.) Puppet Transport Coordinator—Saturday April 20th 9-11 am and 2 and 4 pm

4.) Additional Parade Patrol Crew to join Nic and Dea Talantis on bike and help direct parking before the parade begins—Saturday, April 20th meetup 9-11 am

5.) Parade Pack-up and Clean-up Crew (April 21-22, Sunday & Monday)

If you or folks you know can take on any of these roles/tasks this week please contact:

Please check out the Parade Week events and schedule below which outlines what’s happening and when/where this week.


Monday-Friday, Finish-up: papier maiche and building and BIG puppet repair between 1 and 5 pm, daily at Blackbird Arts

Tuesday-Thurs., Finish-up: Puppet & Mask Painting “Self-serve style”             between 4 and 8 pm, at Blackbird Arts

Wednesday-Friday, Finish-up: Costume-making and detailing Masks              between 4-8 pm,at Blackbird Arts

Blackbird Arts is located at 1485 Barlow St, Traverse City

Tues. April 16th, Puppet Movement 101, 6 PM-–Where you and your puppet team will be “fit” with the BIG puppets and you’ll also learn basic parade performance skills.  Parade Performance Crew/Puppet Movement 101 is Tuesday evening, April 16th @ 6 PM…..@ Blackbird Arts  (MORE DETAILS LISTED BELOW)

Otter Puppet getting a good clean-up and costume repair takes a look at the storyboard.

The Otter Puppet getting a good clean-up and costume repair takes a look at the storyboard.

Wednesday Puppet and Parade Workshop @ The Great Lakes Childrens’ Museum, from 4-6 pm, 13240 SW Bayshore Dr., Traverse City, Michigan, 49685

Friday Puppet and Parade Workshop at Scrap TC, from 5-7 pm,

821 Garfield next to Honey Baked Ham and the UPS store

Fri. April 19th, Parade Eve Tibetan Bowl Ceremony, 8 PM-The night before our Earth Day Parade and traditionally we are still tweaking and finishing up our parade puppets, masks, non-motorized floats….This year our dear friend Eva, from Oryana Co-op, is going to lead a Tibetan Bowl Ceremony to help us find balance and set the tone in our final moments of preparing for and presenting this special community art project!

Earth Day Tibetan Bowl Ceremony is Friday evening, April 19th @ 8 PM…@ Blackbird Arts.


The Fox Puppet is looking forward to a freshly washed costume and looking for three good folks to carry him in the parade!


Our Earth Day Parade theme this year is all about seeds, and the storyboard and characters are imaginative AND awesome, and we have a few parade wizards and wizardresses amongst us that are making incredible parade art! it’s kinda’ incredible what you can do with cardboard and papier maiche!

“Seeds! Awesome Vessels of Power” is an everyday lesson and simple story about the life-cycle of the seed, and how our actions affect our beautiful, seeded world and planet home. If we care for the world, and let the sun shine on it, and water it, the crops will grow, and so will the children. If we put poison on the world, however, if we do not tend to our precious seeds then we will lose our food, our nourishment and nothing can survive. The power of this story lies in the simple beauty of a seed’s life unfolding, its simplicity, and a profound call to action!

JOIN the “Parade Performance Crew” and plan to attend Puppet Movement 101, April 16th or SHOW UP early on parade day.  You and your puppet team will be “fit” with the BIG puppets and you’ll also learn basic parade performance skills.

STEP RIGHT UP! and choose your BIG puppet, or mask/costume and check in with the parade section leaders on April 16th:

Earth Section, George Meyer:

BIG Precious Seed, 4 + more people

Forest Garden-Three pole puppet, 3 People

Wolf—Mask/Costume 2-3 people

Fox—Backpack puppet, 2-3 people

Precious Seed Carriers—Come make your seed pod, as many as possible

Water Section, Chelsea Taylor, Geo:

Otter–Backpack puppet, 2-3 people

Spirit of the Great Lakes–Mask/Costume, 2-3 people

Swan–2-4 people

Center Section, Penny, Melissa, Geo:

Pollen People–Headgear/Costume 4-6 people, come make your headgear!

Hand Petals–Headgear/Costume 6-8 people, come make your petals and headgear

Crow–Three pole puppet, 3 people

Pollinator Bee People–Single pole puppet, 2 people

Blackbirds—Come make your headgear,as many as possible

Snake—5- 10 people

Fire Section, (Need a Section Leader here) with Geo:

Sun–Three Pole puppet, 3 people

Dragon–Northern Michigan Cultural Center

Fruits and Veggies—Come make your headgear or fruit/veg on a stick, as many as possible

Insects—Come make your headgear, as many as possible

Air Section, Penny:

Eagle—Three Pole puppet, 3 people

Dandelion people—Come make your headgear! As many as possible!

Robins—Come make your headgear! as many as possible

Precious Seed Carriers—Come make your seedpod! as many as possible!

More info at:


No worries the Sun is coming! Parade Week events…

Two talented puppet and mask makers standing next to a baby swan….Fiona will be a black bear, and Caleb a Ring of Fairy Mushrooms….

`penny’s parade journal, April 15th:

We just finished a BIG puppet and parade building workshop at Blackbird Arts this weekend, with two great days of children, youth and families continuing to transform cardboard and recycled what-nots into masks, costumes and no-motors-needed floats for our parade.

When I came home to eat supper and greet my delicious friend ‘sleep’ I pretty much wandered through both of those final-end of day tasks in a fog. Yesterday’s question returns—the getting over it one—-and I realize that one of my strategies in finding energy to “begin-again’ year-after-year, is to recognize the edge, which is sometimes immersed in a fog and stop action.

Which is what I did. After eight good solid hours of wonderful sleep, I woke up and took a look at what was creeping into my rested consciousness.  Surprise!  It was a list!  Or at least the need to make a list.  And this one being a leadership list, as in: write out the necessary tasks and various jobs in BIG letters and post it on the wall amidst all the parade-making.  The make-a-list message and my role/task as the list-maker was reinforced when I read this quote right off the bat this morning: “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”

This leadership thing is tricky and it’s not ANYTHING like the first prestigious kind-of idea we may have or the stereotype of that title—especially not in a community-group-shared-space-bring-in-the creative-tinkerers and GO kind of way.  Right off the bat, my good intentions of organizing walk-in-group puppet projects was thwarted when my full attention was cheerfully re-directed by going through the storyboard with two of our special parade marshals.  Soon after, a mass of wonderful and excited, creative kids and their families arrived and then the nice news lady with a camera.

Anyways, I guess what I’m needing to revisit and write about this morning before I begin-again, is that even though my well-planned list and framework for the work-day yesterday was pretty much completely re-arranged by the hands-on tasks, needs and events that popped up as soon as I walked through the doors—I’m about to write out another BIG list for today—and I may even go so far as writing a list out for the week….with the reality that it’s just not that easy to get in front of it sometimes.

Okay—first on the list is GRATITUDE:


It’s remarkable and somewhat daunting what happens when a parade build is in full swing.  I know this and I also forget about it when I’m immersed in the process—which for me is a pleasing necessary and nourishing place to be.  I was reminded of the remarkable daunt when George and I finished the early in the day telling of the parade storyboard to two of our parade marshalls who came to choose their section.  Their reaction was a combination of “wows” and “all of this by parade-day???”

So my first on the list gratefulness mention is for the power of art–of making–doing–being a part of a creative process.  It’s one of the biggest WOW’s ever.  I believe that we are all such creative creatures, and we DO have the creative-fuel that we need and our community to turn the tides on many of the difficulties we face.  Re-creating a healthy way to live on this planet is happening and necessary shift in the paradigm that is parading before us.


Chelsea Taylor is a second year Earth Day Parade artist, and this year is the Water Section parade leader…Her smile is reflective of the lovely, graceful, swan-like being that she is (and becoming).


I’m so very grateful for my longtime friendship with George Meyer and our paired-shared devotion to all of the above.  He’s not only a puppet-partner, but also one of my best friends and a brother-from-another-mother.  George is giving my family AND my community a HUGE gift by visiting us, and, being here in Traverse City helping create and build this parade.


At the end of the workshop, George was suddenly attacked by a papier maiche squirrel!


Thirdly, Melissa and her family at Blackbird Arts have been incredible partners with Little Artshram this year, not only providing the space—but then allowing for this found object, organic blooming of the creative process to really–really happen.  She gets it, and therefore we get to really–really do our stuff, as in Wah-la—-build a parade!  We are feeling deeply grateful and respectfully appreciated.


The painting room, filled to the brim with kids of ALL ages and headgear of many sizes and species!


Likewise, and with as much deep gratefulness and respect I want to share the growing list of 250 folks and businesses that are coming aboard our parade-train as sponsors and partners along with Blackbird Arts:  Chelsea Taylor, Anne Drake, Kristin Anton—devoted artists, teachers and a fantastic part of our parade crew, hands-on volunteers Sharon and Kerry, TC Sings! The Good Work Collective, The Great Lakes Children’s Museum, Scrap TC, NMC Student Life Organization, Oryana Natural Foods Market, O’k Puppet Theater and The Pretty Good Players, Mayor and Mrs. Michael Estes, Jack and Susan Seaman, several anonymous donors….and there will be more!

Gracias, gracias, gracias.


TC Sings, community choir directress, Heather Kingham tries on the dandelion headgear that she’ll be wearing with all the other singing seed-makers in the Air Section.



Finding a parade and getting in front of

SEEDS! 2013 Eday Parade Logo

Once again, we are letting you know via our Little Artshram webpage and Facebook page—-rather than a crowdfunding/sourcing method that your support is needed and will be greatly appreciated!

We’re asking 250 of our community members and friends to contribute $20 each, we would be able to honestly take care of the costs of this 24th annual community event.

Here’s the breakdown of our budget:

Insurance & permits: $1500.00,

Printing, promotion and fundraising mailings:  $500.00

Parade-building materials and expenses: $1500.00 (give or take–depending on how much “stuff” we can glean and search out),

Space rental: $700 (To house and host our guest artist, for his four-week stay.)

Parade artist/crew stipends:  $2500.00, (For the nine (9) weeks, over 600 hours, of heart-mind-hands-on work of designing and setting up a creative space to invite our community to join us in building it.)

A total of numbers of greenbacks needed:  $7,700.00.

So far, we’ve received donations of:  $1,250.00.

As of, April 17th we’ve received an additional: $275.00

STILL, needed to bring this story to life:  $5,175.00

What will you get in return?  LOVE! APPRECIATION! and a PARADE!

Little Artshram is a registered 501.c3 non-profit organization and all gifts are tax-deductable.

Send your gift of parade love, made out to “Little Artshram” and mail it to: Little Artshram, P. O. Box 844, Traverse City, Michigan 49685

On-line donations can be made to Causes, which is under our “mother non-profit” Greater Lansing ARTSPACE dba Little Artshram:

Thank you! This parade is going to be GREAT!

Give $20! What will you get in return? LOVE! APPRECIATION! and a PARADE!

`penny’s parade journal, April 14, 2013:

One week to go—the countdown begins—the BIG puppets are in the repair shop and have been stripped of their costumes for major freshening up, and painting—the work tables are laden with a plethora of projects in the works—and it makes no sense, but is totally necessary for me to continue to add to the very-long, and likely incomplete to-do list.

First, I will wake up and write.

It’s an incredible morning in Traverse City, Michigan and as I sit sipping a good cup of coffee and collect my thoughts, easing myself into another day puppet and parade building I look out my bird-house window and watch the sun rise over Grand Traverse Bay.

Holy Moly! What a tremendous place to live on Earth!

This time of year I have a smidgen—bits’ and pieces of a view of this incredible body of fresh water, and the fine company of two BIG maple trees that are home to a plethora of feathered friends and squirrels.  Right now, they are singing up a storm….their morning songs, along with the big sky lighting up with seagulls crying out loud and long as they fly over…followed by and accompanied with a chorus of chips, tweets, bahhh-rings,  coo-coo-coos….in the trees.

Sunday 6:45 am, GTBay, bird song and the sun rise

Sunday 6:45 am, GTBay, bird song and the sun rise

The morning time is my favorite in this spot at my writing/drawing/coffee table in the company of those voices and before the car traffic begins along the bay.   Especially now, and even with the four inches of April snow that descended upon us this week, this waking up time is such a wondrous, yearly happening. And, is even more so because of my ritual of spring work with the Earth Day Parade…which actually began when there was more like a foot of snow still piled up on the garden and along the streets.

One of the parade artists working with me asked “after 13 years of doing this do you ever feel like you’re over it? or ready to call it quits?” First I laugh, because it is true.  Like any job, and especially one that is not necessarily embraced as “real work” I do get tired.   Planning, organizing and participating in community art and parade building IS work—in every sense of the word.  And, every year there are different experiences, new challenges, and likely a new crew of folks working alongside of me, and of course who knows what the weather will be like on parade day in Northern Michigan!

But I never get over it.  What always seems to happen, once the answer to that question surfaces—the embodied realization I have—is that doing this kind of community art and street theater work to celebrate our home-planet-Earth–is truly a BIGGER deal than any national or cultural holiday that I’ve ever taken time to observe and celebrate—let alone participate in!

Each of these 13 years, when I really look at the who/what/where and how of my experience doing this kind of “serious, ridiculous work”  I’m gifted with the bits and pieces that strung together equal an experience that is abundantly rich.  Our spring work of parade building and community gathering, has become a fantastic process of working alongside of nature, of what’s happening in relationship with the other-than human world–this gorgeous place I call “home”.  AND I’m creating this annual spring, community-wide tradition with dozens and dozens of others.  This is a community—of family, friends, young, old and in-between.  Some have entered the Earth Day parade building process as students or through a special residency program that Little Artshram has sponsored, some have moved away, grown-up, and re-entered from year to year.

Every parade-year is different—and like this changeable, transforming reminder that nature brings to Northern Michigan—part of what keeps us hopping and looking ahead is the letting go and fun of the wondering O’k what’s next????

So back to that list-bizness: TODAY: Find bamboo garden poles, get the BIG puppet costumes washed, Begin the papier maiche and painting repair work on those dear old puppets (Some are 13 years old!), Build more Dandelion and Robin headgear and work on the Gigantic Blooming Blossom….

That should keep me busy as the countdown continues!

Roy the Robin

Roy the Robin. Yesterday’s gem for my parade-build day, was working with Roy who was MORE than delighted to be a Robin in the Air section of the parade—which is all about how seeds are dispersed and carried from here to there. Roy is going to be a great Robin in the Earth Day Parade

We take ‘stuff’ and turn it into community art and street theater!

Earth Day Parade building workshop TODAY, April 14th Blackbird Arts, 1-4 pm..

It’s a lovely Sunday for folks to gather, listen to the storyboard of our 2012 parade theme, and then learn a bit about how Little Artshram and friends continues to invite and offer a spring gift of community art to Traverse City.

This year Blackbird Arts has joined our growing list of family and friends, and a special visiting artist, George Meyer, with many parade-building and puppet adventures is working side by side, parade artists of all ages building masks, costumes and non-motorized floats for our April 20th parade!

The “story” of “Seeds! Awesome Vessels of Power” is told in five chapters or sections of a parade….and it began with an idea—or a fact really that: seeds are awesome vessels of power.

Join us in our puppet and parade building adventures and we hope to see you on parade day! Here’s parade day info:


Earth Day Parade week journal: “Do you ever feel like you’re “over it”?