Green collaboration blooms in Utica

Members of the Midtown Utica Community Center named their flower globe “Sakura” or “cherry blossom” in preparation for One World Flower Fest.

Paula Horrigan, an associate professor of landscape architecture affiliated with CaRDI, practices community engagement every day. She combines her outreach work with Utica’s Rust2Green (R2G) initiative with her R2G Capstone Studio course to bring Cornell students and community organizations together for common – and creative – goals. Horrigan’s students and more than 20 local organizations have organized a community-building event in Utica this weekend: One World Flower Fest.

On Saturday, May 9, Utica’s Oneida Square will be transformed by temporary and permanent art exhibits and events. Everything was co-conceived and made by university and community partners. The idea of “creative placemaking” is to engage citizens directly in making positive short- and long-term changes to their urban environment. The One World Flower Fest is a collective action to make Oneida Square a safer, more beautiful, welcoming and people-friendly place.

Cornell students have been instrumental in organizing this event. They built the Flower Fest website, conducted community workshops and partnered with community groups and schools to create much of the festival’s flower-themed public art elements. The Undergraduate Horticulture Club grew 1,000 marigolds for kids to transplant on festival day and take home. Visiting assistant professor Stephanie Owens’ studio class in the Department of Art is creating an original sculpture to be unveiled on festival day.

Visit the Flower Fest website for more information.

– Jennifer Jensen