Please join us from 12-2pm for an introductory design charrette centered around the idea of a new walking bridge over the Park River connecting the University of Hartford’s campus to the North End of Hartford. This will be followed by a presentation from the artist Elyn Zimmerman.

In 1978, Elyn Zimmerman installed “Conduit”, a line of granite that ran along the bank of the Park River. About 40 years later, the piece has been re-installed by the University of Hartford’s Cohort 2 (Zahar Al-Dabbagh, Fatric Bewong, Blair Butterfield, Sophy Tuttle), with the guidance of University of Hartford’s Operations team, Ricardo Reyes, Mary Mattingly, Carol Padberg, Tom Bradley, and Elyn Zimmerman.

New England Grassroots Grant Recipients!

P.A.R.K. is so delighted to announce that we received a grant from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund to continue our work with this exciting project. The fund is “…the only organization of its kind dedicated to inspireconnect, and support community-based environmental projects throughout New England. Grassroots Fund’s niche is to help those on-the-ground, everyday people for whom grassroots work is a passion and whose volunteer time is a priceless contribution to the common good.”

We will be using the money to plan and implement a design charrette on campus at the University of Hartford on June 15th as well as do research in the community.

Imagining a Connection

The new cohort of artists working on the Park River Project have envisioned creating a path that connects the campus of the University of Hartford to neighborhoods to the north. This path would include a living bridge over the river, as well as animal habitats, an artist’s residency, and environmental observation stations. We envision this path as a way to engage local community members with the environment around them to foster regenerative relationships between people, flora, and fauna. Our project focuses on bridging North Hartford to the University of Hartford, humans to humans, humans to nature by physically building a bridge, creating interactive installations, and creating programming that engages the community. 

Some of the key goals of this project are to: 

  • Enhance the quality and responsible use of public waterways
  • Provide a space where people can engage with the Park River while learning about the local flora and fauna; a place for artists to make creative projects; a place where field work can be conducted
  • Co-create a Living Bridge with living trees and vines that connects not only a physical space, but also visitors with ecology beyond their geographical location as the river is a line of energy enjoyed by all, including local animals.
  • Build Observation Stations made of ecologically conscious materials
  • Acknowledging the river’s history
  • Engage on a deeper level in the culture of the river through its history, its active ecology, and its movement, as a curated artistic experience.
A bridge maquette created by artist Fatric Bewong.
A bridge maquette created by artist Fatric Bewong.
A beehouse/birdhouse maquette created by artist Sophy Tuttle
A beehouse/birdhouse maquette created by artist Sophy Tuttle

Tell Us Your Stories!

A new cohort of Nomad/9 students has picked up where the first cohort left off on the Park River Project. Artist Blair Butterfield is spearheading a project to collect stories from the local Hartford community about the Park River in an effort to paint a more cohesive picture of its history and relationship to the inhabitants of the land surrounding it. If you have a story about the river, personal, historical, or otherwise, please call (802)332-5028 and leave it as a message. 

Over the Red Bridge: Photographs of Steer Creek


Over the Red Bridge: Photographs of Steer Creek
This series of photographs started in January 2017 and ended in April 2018. Every week that I was in Missouri during this timeframe I photographed Steer Creek from over the red bridge. What started as a need to continue a photography practice while in graduate school and focusing on textiles, grew into a project related to the public art component of my program, Park River Tool Kit.

These photographs show the more obvious change over time, ebb and flow of the seasons, and the human interaction with the creek and land surrounding it.

Visit the project.

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.

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