Hey Folks—We’ve only had one person show up today and the other two parade artist/builders are pooped! Who can help us finish up these cleaning tasks? Today until it’s done….Cleaning floors, hauling cardboard scraps and a few other tidying jobs? 

Give a call and drop by soon, please 231-922-2014


What an incredible parade was had! On State Street with snowflakes still falling, the sun brought itself out and shone down on all of our colorful creations!

Today we send out our gratitude and gather once more to pack the studio and our parade-building headquarters up.

Much appreciation to Blackbird Arts and Melissa Johnson and family for providing the BEST possible space/place for a good part of this parade to “hatch”.

In addition to Blackbird Arts, we have many, MANY more folks to thanks and will be doing that soon along with more photos and story-telling/sharing to come—But part of the parade process is also the clean-up.

So, first we spend this day after our community event gathering to tidy-up, pack-up and show our thanks and gratefulness by leaving Blackbird Arts sparkling clean!

Pitch in and show your appreciation, for the great efforts it took by a bunch of good folks to share this parade with our Traverse City Community!

Our parade-clean-up @ Blackbird Arts from 1-5 pm today.

A So-Long and Send-Off Supper for our 2013 Parade Crew and volunteers will happen afterwards.

Call `penny for q/a and details: 231-922-2014  


Roy the Robin, standing amongst the TC Sings Singing Bees

Roy the Robin, standing amongst the TC Sings! Singing Bees before the parade began.

We need more folks on this clean-up-crew—-Oh, what a Parade…and clean-it/pack-it up Day!LittleArtshram.org

YES! We will brave this chilly, somewhat windy Northern Michigan weather and parade today in honor of our planet home and in the name of seeds being awesome vessels of power!

See you near Oryana Co-op near 10th and Lake St. @ 11:30!  Bundle up and get ready for some great fun!

2013 Earth Day Poster Seeds!####480758_505250196197719_946737382_n

The Earth Day Parade is ON! See you at 11:30 near Oryana!LittleArtshram.org


`penny’s parade journal, Wednesday, April 17th

This morning my heart-mind and body is swimming between the worlds of work and need.  Wednesday is a bit of water-section and center-section day with an evening of air-section, as my energy permits.

But, starting it off is a combo-reality check-in about this week being in part a very BIG left-brain sort of week –being tax-week–looking at the actual earned income of an artist/educator/garden-farmer; while continuing to plot out my personal income streams (paying my living expenses).  Arks to the balancing of the left and right brain-work—but gratitude as I sit in both places—right/left; student/teacher–all the  while continuing to stay true the best I’m able to my impassioned work, a little outside of the box—and defending/persevering in those roles.

SO—I go to a morning read and source of both inspiration and mentoring from another who is doing similar work as I, although on a MUCH grander scale, and I reflect on the role of both self and community educating with the utmost respect, what the heck I’m doing, and, why I continue this kind of creative work that enchants, exhausts, and enriches me.

In other words, I’m being asked to explain myself.

So here goes:

Earth Day Parade Q&A

The Economics of the Earth Day Parade:

The Earth Day Parade has miraculously thrived in somewhat of a “gift economy”—a mixture of monetary donations from individuals, combined with labor and vision donations from many, many volunteers, along with a devoted pod of artists and organizers hired for the Earth Day Parade who blend countless hours of volunteer labor within their honorariums fees.

Some questions you might have:

Who Produces the Earth Day Parade?

Little Artshram is responsible for the production of the Earth Day Parade. It is at the minimum a 6-month process for our staff—fundraising, organizing, training artists, securing permits, with addressing logistical and creative questions that take all of our skills to support the community in producing the final event.

Does the City of Traverse City sponsor the Earth Day Parade?

No. The city supports us by assisting/guiding us through the paperwork/permit process and give kudos to the Earth Day Parade as a example of a community art event. However, we get no financial support from the City. We pay for all the  services ($1,500), liability insurances, street permits, and expenses.

Does the Traverse City Parks Department support the Earth Day Parade?

Through the years at our Earth Day Parade and community picnic and celebration at Hannah Lay Park, the Parks Department has been very helpful.  HOWEVER, this year, because of our budget constraints and need for additional volunteer support, AND because collaboration is a good thing, for our after-party, we are joining the Dirt Fest at NMC.  INFO on the Dirt Fest is here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/236036129870976/?fref=ts

How is the Earth Day Parade budget structured and why do we need financial support?


People and people services: (fulltime and part-time artists, organizers,  including training/set-up of parade parking/traffic patrol, information/recycling, etc.): $2500.00*,

(For nine (9) weeks, of the six (6) months of parade organization, the full and part-time artists alone have clocked in over 600 hours, of heart-mind-hands-on work.  AND, please note: this represents 6 people with stipends, not a full-hourly wage.)

Insurance and permits: $1500.00

Printing, promotion, and fundraising mailings: $500

Supplies for puppets and parade-building materials and expenses: $1500.00* (give or take–depending on how much “stuff” we glean and search out)

Space rental, at Blackbird Arts for the parade build and housing our guest artist and puppeteer: $700


Solicited contributions before the Earth Day Parade: $1,250.00

Contributions we would like to collect on Earth Day Parade day: $1750.00 (*note: not certain of this yet)

Sponsorships: $4200.00 (*note: not certain of this yet)

Little Artshram operating support in 2013: $500.00, in on-hand materials/supplies/services (PLUS, volunteer-time/task-oriented gifting)

TOTAL INCOME: $7,700.00

*With expenses, supplies for puppets are only $1,500, with a priority on people costs: $2,500.  You can see that the folks working to bring this community project to life are donating much of their time, as well as, the Little Artshram organization. We are both proud of this, and concerned that this model of gifting our community is WAY out of balance and will be adjusted to reflect a living wage for the people power/workers in 2014.

*All our income is uncertain and mostly raised from many donations of small amounts.

It takes both money and volunteers!

Over the past 24 years, as the Earth Day Parade and community celebration has grown, there have many added organizational expenses for permits, fees, staff, and more. Many people do not realize that the Earth Day Parade does cost money—that it is at the very least a 6-month-long project to assure its wonderfulness each year.  Little Artshram subsidizes the expenses from its general operating support, and has always worked to increase the focus both on donations for the day of the Earth Day Parade itself and on opportunities for businesses along the parade route and community group sponsorships. The recent years have been difficult for two main reasons:

1) With the general economic downturn, Little Artshram has had less to offer from its general operating support.

2) Low turn-out of pre-parade participants/volunteers in the parade-building workshops and a couple of  years of unfortunate weather the day of the Earth Day Parade celebration.

We truly do NOT have a budget to cut-back on, and we never have.  The devoted dozen or so folks holding the energy and framework of this parade have always and are still gifting the Traverse City community with this 24 year tradition of a community art project.  But this needs to change this year, in order to ensure this community event continue in 2014.

Our expense budget outlined above is realistic.  Just like investing in a CSA-community supported agriculture membership, we ask folks to understand that we cannot predict the weather, yet ask for your investment in our work regardless.

We are so incredibly frugal when it comes to any sort of purchase or expense added on to the bare minimum of projected costs, and we do so with a true garbage-artist sense of glee and pride!  Making stuff out of stuff ROCKS!

AND, this year, as an incredible act of our belief in ABUNDANCE rather than scarcity, we are gifting this community with even more, through the generosity of a professional parade artist and puppeteer from In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater joining the parade staff—-as he is gifting us with his presence, energy and commitment to our shared work of community art and street theater!

In order to make this parade a smooth, safe running public event, we actually need to INCREASE our staff in 2014, and know that we can not continue to rely on volunteers putting forth what amounts to a full-time, 40 hour a week job, on top of another 40 hour a week job.

At the same time, we also need additional volunteers. The more years someone volunteers, the more skilled they are. That helps us greatly. Volunteering can be as little as a one-time deal on day of the Earth Day Parade, or as long as the 4 weeks of consistent support we need for the public workshops beforehand. This has been especially crucial in 2013 as we are working with a minimal number of parade artists who are leading workshops, designing, organizing and building the parade.

Could you still join us—even these last few days of parade week—as a workshop volunteer?

We will need help finding Happy Can Hosts, people who will follow our parade route these next few days with donation cans and parade info, encouraging additional sponsorships—-AND, show up on parade day, decked out in a mask and costume asking for donations along our parade route. Would you be one?

Could you be a volunteer on the day of the Earth Day Parade to help set up, pack-up the puppets and parade gear?

Could you help with the parade studio clean-up on Sunday at Blackbird Arts?

Can the Earth Day Parade be sustained by many people, or by several big corporations (as some recommended)?

We believe that the Earth Day Parade can be sustained by the strength of the community, built by donations from people who want it to continue as a community art-making, vision-stretching, life-affirming event. If everyone who comes to the Earth Day Parade contributed  $5-20, (less than the cost of a movie), then Earth Day Parade would flourish, end of story. On parade day, with just 250 people each giving $20: that is $5,000!

We need your help to keep the Earth Day Parade with its freedom of expression rising honestly from the community. Would you really wish to see a corporation brand the Earth Day Parade with their logo? Nestle’s Ice Mountain company for instance—do you remember several of our parades focus on the issue of water privatization along with the most recent being 2012 titled “The Great Lakes: Our Living Water”.  Each time we theme a parade with our love and concern for our fresh water lakes, we send out among other concerns a continued plea to end the proliferation of plastic bottled water and the selling of water for a profit.  Would they have allowed the community to raise awareness about the negative issues of privatized water?

PLEASE join us and let’s build a broad base of financial and volunteer support to assure the future sustainability of the Earth Day Parade! Little Artshram and a our small pod of faithful community members,  cannot do it alone.

How do we build a broad base of financial and volunteer support?

Are there those among you who would step forward to inspire a group of your friends to support the Earth Day Parade financially? Say, 10 or 20 friends? An  idea is to host a parade-route block-party, or fundraising breakfasts and brunches on the day of the event. Teams can be made up of children, teens, beautiful young adults, families, old timers, you name it. You probably have better ideas than we do–who is it that loves the Earth Day Parade and celebration?

Are there organizations or clubs that could be a sponsor the Earth Day Parade such as your co-op, or church?

What other ideas do you have?

We now ask for donations on the day of the Earth Day Parade (such as when people purchase tickets to events). How could we do this in a fun, successful way?

If the Earth Day Parade is to continue another quarter century, and have a long life, inspiring and delighting generations yet to come, it must have the community’s financial and volunteer support. That is the simple fact of it. Now is the time to help continue this tradition.

Climb aboard this Earth Day Parade Train! We want to honor you by adding your name to this list:

Here is our growing list of 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, Sharon and Kerry hands-on volunteers, 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, Sandi McArthur and Jeff Anderson, several anonymous donors….

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

Although it may not be obvious, there is an online donation option on the Little Artshram web site. Click on the words “Donate; Causes” on the top right side of the home page, just beneath the crow and sunflowers. This will get you to our standard “year round” donation page under our “mother” non-profit Greater Lansing ARTSPACE/dba Little Artshram, allowing you to donate.

Please know everyone can easily and immediately donate towards the Earth Day Parade in these ways:

1. On our site www.littleartshram.org click on “Donate: causes” for donation page.

2. On Earth Day Parade day, when you see a person with a “Happy Can” coming your way

3. Mailing a check: Little Artshram, P. O. Box 844, Traverse City, Michigan, 49685

4. Show up at our puppet and parade building studio in the next two days and take on a volunteer shift, or sign-up to wear one of our BIG puppets and join in one of the parade sections.

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

peace, love, art.


2 0 1 3 Grand Traverse

EARTH DAY PARADE Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Parade line-up @ 11:30 am

Parade begins @ 12:30 pm “Seeds! Awesome Vessels of Power”

Join the parade or watch it along our NEW parade route:

Beginning @ Oryana, Lake St., crossing 8th Street, to Lake, to Cass, to State, to Park, to Front, to Union, to State, to Cass, to Lake, crossing

8th Street to Lake and Oryana!

“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!

SEEDS! 2013 Eday Parade Logo



Climb aboard the Earth Day parade-train…..LittleArtshram.org

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: http://www.littleartshram.org/?p=1909



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….LittleArtshram.org