The man who has the seneca sunflower seeds has found a sample of Lenape Blue Corn seeds in his freezer. He said he will donate the corn seeds to the project. I just need to keep the Lenape blue isolated-- it can't cross pollinate with any rogue Brooklyn street corn. I will then return the seed to him. This is great. I may actually be able to plant Lenape corn (and beans!) on historical Lenape planting grounds. But still need to find a spot. Will it happen?
The editor of the Canarsie Courrier sent me an article about the history of the spot on the Rockaway Parkway and Shore Drive. The story of how it was once a community garden maintained by neighborhood volunteers. The article describes the parcel's rise from a vacant lot to a thriving community garden and its eventual decline as the volunteer community aged. There's a great side story about a handmade sign they put there that had an American Indian on it and the slogan, "Canarsie Cares". The sign was then made into a metal version of the handmade one. Then it disappeared from the garden and reappeared at the Canarsie subway stop (see photo above) Now the spot is under the jurisdiction of the Adopt-a-Highway Volunteer Program. The current sponsor is responsible for picking up the litter and planting flowers. So I'm not sure it's really a possibility to do anything there, but I have a call into the Adopt-a-Highway Volunteer Coordinator. Might as well continue to follow the thread. It could be lovely to rehabilitate that spot with native corn. But it does seem like a long shot. I guess that's part of what this project is pointing out -- there just isn't much land to grow corn on anymore -- especially in places that were once Lenape planting lands.
I did a quick sketch for the cemetery entrance. I think a planting is still may be a possibility there -- but it will depend on the timing of the city's sale of the property. Something about fences could be worked into an installation here (chain link.. so pretty). Also Sunflowers, of course. Maybe only one planting. Maybe one side corn, one side sunflowers. Sunflowers outside the fence?
One advantage of planting here is that the corn will be protected from vandals. And there is water nearby.
Rode back out to Canarsie to check on a lead for another spot. I took a meandering route through old Flatbush. I ended up being on my bike a lot longer than I expected to be. Also new was to continue up Ditmas at the spot where Clarendon meets Ralph I had to ride through several blocks of auto body shops and industry (not sure if this will be my recommended route). Then I turned down E 93rd or maybe E 94th and sailed into Canarsie. It was a beautiful day to ride around the neighborhood. It seems like the storm hit hard there. I saw a lot of uprooted trees.
Started reading some of Guiliana Bruno's Atlas of Emotion. Thinking more about the map recently. What is it that I really want to map? The route from one corn garden to the other. But there's something more there about memory; memory of the city; having the imagination to remember the past; the past as another layer of meaning in the present; excavation (again this); the bicycle journey; the pathways transformed to highways. Picked up a used copy of the Atlas of Columbus and the Great Discoveries at Housingworks a couple days ago. Been looking at it. Will let things sit for now, and read.
Here's a picture of Madeleine de Scudéry's Carte du pays de Tendre, in Clelia (1678). Mapping tenderness. I like that.
Last summer I cruised around the "corn zone" in Canarsie on my bicycle. The perimeteters of the historical planting grounds are roughly from Avenue J down to Avenue N (with a little section going all the way down to Seaview Ave) And from E. 83rd to E. 96th. It's a nice residential area and it would be interesting to see if anyone living in that zone would be willing to plant corn in their front gardens. There is one home in the zone (ave K and E. 85th) with a front yard full of corn. Even now blanketed under the snow you can still see the dried out stalks. I visited the area again with my friend Isak. I was especially interested in checking out the cemetery. Canarsie Cemetery sits right in the heart of the historical planting lands. The city is the current owner of the cemetery and is trying to sell it off. I'm proposing to do a planting there. I think the history of the site as once being a planting ground in addition to it's current state as cemetery in need of care make it a lovely and timely place for a public art piece about land, history, change, and renewal.