Pegi Christiansen: Distance 5

February 12, 2015

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts by Pegi Christiansen, who is a Lynden artist in residence through October 2015. As part of her project, Distance, Pegi will accompany people, in groups of up to three, on their first trip to Lynden. She will pick them up, drive them out, take a walk with them, and bring them back. As part of the excursion, she will ask some questions about distance. If you are interested in participating in this aspect of Pegi's project, please call 414-446-8794 or email info@lyndensculpturegarden.org and mention you are interested in a “distance visit.”

The instant I picked up Wendy Hamilton, Healthy Neighborhoods Program Manager for Sherman Park Community Association on Fond du Lac Avenue November 10, I became lost in thought. My father was a mapmaker for General George S. Patton during World War II and I pride myself on using real maps (not GPS) and getting where I need to go without making mistakes. However, I was so caught up in my conversation with Wendy (on a very easy drive straight north on Sherman Boulevard) that I had to backtrack twice.

When I am with visitors at Lynden, along with talking about distance, the one other thing I need to do is make sure to take a picture. I forgot to do this. Instead, Wendy sent me a photo from inside her home in Sherman Park. It gives you a sense of how vibrant she is.

Wendy_dist5_cropped

I have known Wendy since 2007, but have never spent time with her outside of the SPCA office. I knew it would be special to have one-on-one contact with her. Just like with the planners from West Allis a week earlier, we talked about distance nonstop, but in a way I never imagined. Wendy had carefully considered the topic and knew what she wanted to say. I was riveted.

Once at Lynden, Wendy told me, “Distance equals peace.” Wendy grew up in Sherman Park and lives in the neighborhood now. She said, “I am a city girl and love it, but I also care about being close to the earth.” She believes everyone should be able to experience both the urban and the rural. This means taking her two daughters, who want action and excitement, to places where teenager Afrika first says, “This is too quiet.” Afrika soon starts to soak it in and imagines her daily life in these places and spaces. Fourth grader Nadiatier believes they have left the state when they drive to a rural community.

Wendy is searching for ways to bring the untroubled and natural environment of Lynden to Sherman Park. Living in an urban environment can be stressful. Wendy believes bringing tranquility to Sherman Park will “bring peace to the landscape of people’s minds” as well.

We discussed lots of ideas. It would be possible to create prairies in vacant lots. You could plant a dense forest area in Sherman Park. You could create spaces that would attract birds and other wildlife right in people’s backyards.

Lynden could be a part of this process. Lynden's education staff offers field trips for school groups that invite students and teachers to observe and inquire about place, nature, and art. Participants then explore ways to bring the things learned at Lynden back to their own schools and neighborhoods.


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