I have been meaning to write about Plan B for a long time. It’s a little bit daunting because there is so much to cover! our ArtPrize project plan B, was an out-door art installation/functioning eco village we put together with about 30 collaborators. Our goal was to explore the idea –what is america’s plan b? We wanted to represent a thriving post peak oil community. The whole camp was made out of recycled materials.
We had big hand stitched (By me) tents made out of billboard vinyl, a kitchen made out of doors with two rocket stoves, a sink, and an old fashion frigidaire, a stage made out of lots of scrap wood gathered over the summer and a bike bar that powered the sound system, an outhouse with a composting toilet, a sand and gravel water filter, bunnies in rabbit hutches and chickens in a chicken tractor, a puppet theater, a green house with a fish pond and garden in it, and of course the Wonder Wagon!
to start it all off we had a parade to our venue the Gerald Ford Museum lawn a beautiful location right next to the Grand River. In the beginning we had some vandalism, someone pushed the water filter into the Grand River during the night so we decided to have a couple people sleep on site every night –with setup and teardown it was 23 days! It was a lot of fun camping in downtown G.R., that specific spot had been an Native American burial ground. We had a bonfire every night (can you believe they let us!?!) which was really wonderful for bonding with our collaborators in the cold nights of September and October.
Every night and sometimes during the day, we had musicians and performers come and play at our camp, that was always one of the highlight of the day. Since there were people on site all the time- we were lucky enough to have wonderful people and restaurants donating us food… usually a vegetarian soup we would warm up on our rocket
stove. One of our projects was processing acorns for food (not as hard as it sounds) after you remove all the tannins they can be ground into a sweet maple-ey protein rich flour perfect for pancakes.
we spun yarn, sawed wood with a two man saw, juggled, cooked on open fire, had impromptu sing-alongs with a Plan B song book. People were always taking our picture even when we were in the kitchen eating. Whenever one of us was tired or just needed some time alone– they would go into one of the off limits sleeping tents some people could not control their curiosity and would poke their head in and sometimes kids would say “hey mom there’s people in there!” At times we could feel like zoo animals! I like to believe there is no such thing as a stupid question, but here is a list of some of the funniest things we got asked,– woman pointing at the Wonder Wagon, do you all sleep in there? are you Amish? are you rainbow? what are you? person going into an off limit sleeping tent– are you sleeping? is this a cult? you got to have a sense of humor! But we also got asked a lot of really good questions. In the early morning, the older people would come through as we were eating breakfast– the older ladies really liked the kitchen they said they used a frigidaire and learned to cook for the first time on a wood stove. Here is something an old woman told me after seeing the chickens, i grew up on a small farm and we had chickens and now there aren’t any small farms not like in picture books– they’re all factories and that is no place to raise children I think what you all are doing is really important then
she teared up, it was moments like that, that I loved. One of our goals was not to try to win the ArtPrize competition because of how crazy it made us the year before. What we wanted, was to take advantage of the thousands of people who come down town for ArtPrize every year open up the dialogue and get them to think. We did end up wining The Best Use of Urban Space juried prize! judged by Jeff Speck for $5000.00! My favorite part of working on Plan B was the people that worked on it with us! so many people went above and beyond helping pull us pull it off. And to them Thank You! Here is a wonderful movie made by Pearl Beerhorst!