PRTK Events in June 2018

On the evening of June 21st, 2018, the Park River Toolkit exhibition will open at Hartford’s Real Art Ways. Please mark your calendars!

Following the opening, on June 23rd the Park River Toolkit will host events at University of Hartford’s campus. The events will begin mid-day in the Joseloff Gallery and include a Park River-based workshop led by Mary Pelletier, Founding Director of Park Watershed. The workshop will be followed by a foraging walk led by UHart’s Nomad/9 Foraging Group and a local expert. Finally, speakers (TBA) will present their work related to the Park River in Hartford.


Foraging Recipes

I would like our group to consider co-creating a participatory recipe collection for preparing foraged foods. It could be realized by developing one or more workshops and building a collective wiki/blog that we could all contribute recipes to and edit.

For the workshops-

The first workshop is about foraging wild plants along the Park River. For this part, we can partner with local environmental and botanical organizations and community networks to write our foundation material. This could serve as a means to draw attention to the river and its riparian ecosystem. Would it alter the community’s relationship with the river?

The next workshop I would like our group to consider would be an experimental recipe workshop for preparing foraged foods. In this workshop, using our plant archive from the first workshop, we would record our work in the collective wiki/blog. The recipes we develop would then be archived in the wiki/blog, and later edited for publication as a recipe book.

A Simulations of the Proposed blog/ wiki-


Home page, project title on the top. Underneath are the links to the plants, it will grow and develop as our project is implemented.

collective photo and mapping album part2.jpgA sample page,  Yellow Woodsorrel.  It is open for participants to add their own photos, how they refer to this plant locally, as well as the location(s) where they found it along the river. It is a collective wiki format archive. The purpose is to collect multiple narratives, and personal perspectives about both the plant and the river. It also serves as a means to stimulate people to think of the river, and to relate their lives to the river, and while considering the riparian habitat.


In the second part of the page would be the description, flavour and links to our recipes. These would also be editable by viewers.



Park River Indigenous History, Part 1


In my ongoing research about the indigenous history of the Park River and the surrounding land, I have been part of an email chain-gaining some information and then being directed to others who know a little more. To date, I have received additional information from Dr. Paul J. Grant-Costa, executive editor of The Yale Indian Papers and Dr. Katherine Hermes, Department of History Chair at Central Connecticut State University.

My notes:

*The Indigenous name of the Park River is unknown.

*The Park River ran through land occupied by the Suckiog.

*Native communities such as the Podunk, Wangunk, and Tunxis used the Park River. All these communities including the Suckiog were connected through family, political and social relationships as well as clanship.

*The Hartford area was part of the Pequot War, which was a conflict between the Pequot tribe and English colonists and their Native American allies. The Pequot obtained the land (that is Hartford today) through Indian conquest just before the Pequot war. After the war the land was returned to the local indigenous communities that had been previously defeated (rather than the Pequots).

*As the watershed grew the Suckiog relocated. Many moved to the Tunxis community.

*The river was most likely used for travel, and as a seasonal resource for food and plants.

*Wangunk territory may have been larger than usually reported.

*Historians and anthropologists created tribes out of what were actually clans. This may have led to misconceptions about each of the communities.

I have reached out to another set of professionals with knowledge surrounding the Park River. Additionally, I am reading and listening to suggested secondary sources. These notes will be posted in a post called Park River Indigenous History Part 2.

The forage botanical drawing


This is a botanical drawing of Spearmint. It’s one of the plants in Hartford that Rachel saw and pointed out to me. I also remember that I saw it during our site visit.

The form of the drawings serves to aid in identification, usage, and the growing habits of this plant. Because of this, the drawings collection or the drawing workshop could focus on these aspects of the plants we identify near the river.

Feel free to comment or add to this post.

Air and Water and The Bdote Tour

When learning about water and it’s influence in the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the Fall of 2016, I frequently thought of water’s symbolic association with emotion. The emotional aspects of our residency has manifested in many ways. We connected with the Dakota women by providing an emotional context for historical events on our Bdote Tour. We learned about the emotional connections of contemporary community in Frogtown when biking with Seitu, observing him interact with friends family and business owners along our bike tour.


Personally, the archetype of water as personal emotional experience was most present in my mind throughout the residency. I believe that our personal emotional responses mirrored the larger curations of the program. As a loving cohort, our sympathetic and empathetic abilities were exhibited during more challenging moments, such as the Bdote tour.


I remember Mona speaking to empathy as obstacle, and held onto this idea throughout the whole residency. I felt this concept greatly illuminated the reality of the head and heart relationship. Sometimes, the head shuts the heart down. Other times, the opposite occurs. And on different occasions, the two realms stalemate, and we are unable to make a decision between the heart and the head.  


This continuous meditation was further intensified when Mona shared videos she had created and embedded on the Bdote Tour website. In one video Translation of the Word Mnisota, Chris Mato Numpa provides his take on the translation of Minnesota ‘The land where the water reflects the sky and heavens’. The more common translation is the ‘land of sky blue waters’.” While numpa believes that both interpretations are correct, he prefers the former, and states that “my (translation) will be accurate whether or not it is cloudy or the sun is shining. The water will always still reflect the sky.” (1)


This, to me, spoke to the idea that even when we are experiencing tensions or conflicts between the heart (water) and the head (air), they are still always connected. They always see each other, show each other off as reflections, and communicate with each other.


This brought me peace, and I decided it was a helpful concept to construct a project around. I created a box, painted visceral red and black colors on the outside, and a deep yet calming blue within. I strung lights across the box’s ceiling, added clouds with white paper and chalk, and draped a translucent sheet across the top to create a slightly atmospheric effect. In order to enter this space, one had to lie down and place their head on the ground, inside of the box. They then were told to listen to a recording of water as they spent a few moments inside.


This idea reflected all of the feelings I had been experiencing during an exceptionally “watery” residency. The idea of being someone fixed in one’s own head, contrasted with the idea of a limitless sky. The idea of this “box”, the head, being full of racing ideas (air), contrasted with the sound of water in one’s ears. This sound was meant to remind the participant that while thoughts raced through the head, seemingly stuck in this box, that water is always moving, running inside of us, and around us, and that we can use it for calmness and emotional release. I appreciated this non-dualistic approach to stillness and movement, as air and water are highly mobile elements but the piece did not involve  movement on the behalf of the participant. This idea was highlighted by Mona’s video entitled Healing Place:


Healing and movement go hand in hand, but movement is also about stillness. Paying attention to ourselves first and then others around us, and that includes paying attention to where we are, and where I am standing right now. To know how you are connected or disconnected to this place. I can’t tell someone how sacred mother earth is to them.


Instead of saying ‘Tell me what this means’, try to experience it yourself. Stop your mind and open up your heart. Because I can’t tell someone what spirituality means to them.


Healing and movement go hand in hand, but movement is also about stillness. Paying attention to ourselves first and then others around us, and that includes paying attention to where we are, and where I am standing right now. To know how you are connected or disconnected to this place.” (2)


I felt that this point was very relevant to the work we are doing in the Nomad program, Both on the macro and micro cosmic level. It is important for us to stay mindful of the effects of our emotions and thoughts as we explore new terrains and mindscapes, and transform empathy from an obstacle into a tool for compassion.


Cited Videos


Healing Place. Bdote Memory Map. Minnesota Humanities Center and Allie, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. <;.


Translation of the Word Mnisota. Bdote Memory Map. Minnesota Humanities Center and Allie, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. <;.bdote

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