Saint Paul’s Official Earth Day Celebration Wishes for the Sky is an annual, interactive public art experience celebrating Earth Day alongside the Mississippi River on St. Paul’s Harriet Island. In three years it has quietly evolved into something remarkable. It is the Twin Cities’ annual day of wishing-a joyful day for the community to enliven their relationship with the earth and with each other. Thousands of wishes have flown over Harriet Island along the Mississippi. What other event allows us to see and feel our collective hopeful hearts?
Wishes for the Sky invites everyone to participate in making a work of public art. Participants write wishes on hand-made, bird-shaped kites and fly them to create an evolving mobile in the sky. “House to Touch the Wind” is a temporary sculpture made of bamboo and hundreds of wind chimes, which will be built in a new design this year. The public plays this large musical instrument to create a soundscape that rings throughoutHarriet Island. Inside the Pavilion, volunteer “Poetry Interpreters” circulate to help people read the calligraphy of thoughtful poems about our earth, which at first glance looks like Chinese but is actually a delightfully puzzling form of English. New this year, the event will close with an open drum circle led by percussionist Marc Anderson from 4:30 – 5:00.
This arrival-of-spring tradition has become a model for green, zero-waste events. According to Mike Hahm, Director of Saint Paul Parks & Recreation; “Wishes for the Sky is leading the way for environmentally sustainable events”. The event is carefully planned to focused on shared experience (not consumption), and the 4,500 attendees over the past three years have generated less than 24 pounds of trash collectively. That’s less than 1/10 of an ounce per person! Even the vendors who offer chai, nutritious bulk foods, and whole fruit plan for zero waste. Many families and friends bring zero-waste picnics and make a leisurely day of it.
The event begins at 11:00 a.m. with the ceremonial flying of the first two wishes – from Earth Day’s firstborn in St. Paul, and the oldest living Minnesotan (Ruth Anderson, 110 years of Marshall, MN). Last year we airmailed a kite to Walter Breuning, age 112, the oldest man in the country and former resident of Minnesota. He wrote: I just wish people would be kind to each other.
“Earth Day, the arrival of spring, and the Mississippi River inspire us to make good wishes,” explains MarcusYoung, lead artist and City Artist in Residence for Saint Paul.
A sample of wishes written on kites in 2009:
- I wish all have enough, none have too much.
- I pray for long life and harmony… less fear and more unity. Our dog prays for lamb fat, peanut butter cookies, and naps.
- I wish for Mrs. Hauge to be my teacher forever!
- I wish for a safe return from Iraq for Sam.
- I wish that people would notice the poor among them and help them.
- I wish my kids will enjoy a day like this with their kids one day.
What: A family-friendly, public art event that celebrates inner harmony and community peace
Who: Open to the public
When: Sunday, April 25, 11 a.m. -5 p.m. (rain or shine)
Where: Harriet Island, 75 W Water Street, Saint Paul.
Visitors are encouraged to bike, bus or walk to the event. Travel information can be found at www.wishesforthesky.org.
Wishes for the Sky was founded in 2007 by Saint Paul’s City Artist-In-Residence Marcus Young, in collaboration with choreographer Shen Pei, architect Peter Kramer, and many other local artists. The event is presented in partnership with Saint Paul Parks & Recreation, Public Art Saint Paul, and Eureka Recycling, along with the support of several community organizations.
Kites are provided. Organic and locally-based food and drink will be sold at the event by Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op and Namaste Café. Visitors packing their own lunch are asked to “pack it green”