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.

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.

Suggestion for foraging toolkit


A foraging workshop for plants would involve story-telling and identifying plants at river’s bank. It can also be our research result about some spots along the river. We can launch it online and place them in our greenhouse.

Things that can be included:
-Names, characteristics of the plants;
-Usage, recipes, crafts (It can be a workshop including foraging, making, and teaching);
– The relationship with the environment (Natural? Urban? Half? Novel eco-system?);
-The relationship with human activity (Plants that move with a certain group of people, i.e.: Broadleaf Plantain is considered “white man’s footprint”; plants that brought by farming and gardening; personal memories, etc.)

Suggestion for starting our work:
-Take a picture of a spot, identify as many plants as we can based on pictures.
-Search for the information and materials in relation to the above categories.
-Group and analysis of our materials.

Readings and reference:

  1. Novel ecosystems-
  2. Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order by Richard J. Hobbs,Eric S. Higgs,Carol Hall-
  3. Plants in CT-
  4. Water treatment related projects, and the idea of turning ‘problems’, ‘invasive’ into  resources, it also relates to the idea of novel ecosystems –
  5. Good example for physical tools and presentation-
  6. Another good example for foraging, and the concern about the relationship between humans and the environment-



Park River: The Underground River

What if…

There was an underground art party in an underground river?

There were tours on the history of the Park River (also known as the Hog River)?

Would graffiti artists give artists talks on how to tag the tunnels of the river?

Could there be science class for children on canoes?

Below are some accounts on canoeing the Park River:

Canoeing the Park River

Paddling Hartford

The Hog River Revival 

Sad City Hartford Takes On The Park River

Artists Canoe Underground

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