Hummingbirds invited to Lippitt Park

Friday's opening celebration of The Hummingbird Palace, Providence.

There is a new piece of sculpture in Lippitt Park that is just asking for birds to perch on it.

It is “The Hummingbird Palace, Providence,” by artist Esther Solondz, and was officially opened Friday, June 27, at a wine-and-strawberries celebration attended by dozens of people.

The plaque posted as part of the exhibit reads, in part, that it is “to evolve over time. Flowering vines will grow through the structure while simultaneously attracting hummingbirds.” It asks observers to “Please post images of hummingbirds you see! www.thehummingbirdpalace.com

The piece’s mission statement says it “is a public sculpture that whose primary purpose is to engage viewers in Lippitt Park. It has the mission of attracting hummingbirds and raising awareness of hummingbirds and their habitats.”

Its web site says it “begins with an ethereal structure made primarily of thin welded steel rod, translucent threadline, epoxy putty, clear silicon rubber and urethane.  Its appearance is that of a sugar structure covered with web-like drips.  The size of the structure is 15 feet high. It is enclosed in a boundary fence that is connected with the piece by silicon threadline for visual and safety purposes.”

At Friday’s opening, Solondz said “a couple of people helped finance” the project and “the city allowed me to do it.” She added that the plantings include honeysuckle and morning glory, which attract hummingbirds, “but they just have to get here.”

Initially the flowers will be watered by a mobile tank rolled into the park, she said, but “after that nature takes over.”  The artist is also seeking volunteers, especially students and seniors, to help with the maintenance of the plants and feeders as a community project.

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Lippitt Park fountain to spout soon

Parents letting their children climb in the dry fountain despite signs warning of the danger.

City Parks Superintendent Bob McMahon said Wednesday that the fountain in Lippitt Park should be turned on in 10 to 14 days.

At a meeting with several members of the SNA board, he said some of the chemicals in the water had eroded some seals and that there was leakage. But he said that was to be fixed as soon as possible and the water would start flowing.

The Hummingbird Palace

SAVE THE DATE: Opening for The Hummingbird Palace, Providence
Friday June 27  4:00-6:30..
Lippitt Park, (where Blackstone Blvd and Hope Street come together).

Work has started for the installation near the Hope Street side of the park. Note the farmers market in the background.

Music festival blows crowd away

By Anthony Arrigo
SNA contributing writer

Bright sunshine, mobs of dancing people, faerie and bee costumes, hula hoops, bubbles, graffiti art, rows of vendors, lines at food trucks five people deep, the mayor, a half-century anniversary party, and, oh yeah, six straight hours of great music, all of which marked this year’s Summit Music Festival Aug. 24 in Lippitt Park as the best one yet in its four-year tenure.

The Extraordinary Rendition Band officially kicked off the day with an animated “When the Saints Go Marching In” procession from the Hope Street Farmer’s Market to the festival’s main stage. They would come back later for a full set on the grass in front of the stage.

Local band Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes then treated the crowd to a preview of the kind of musical day it was going to be with their keyboard-led, hip-shaking alt-rock that had the neighborhood streaming into the park.

Fifteen-year-old Emeline Easton, of Providence, followed, and although it was just her with an acoustic guitar on the large stage, she captivated the audience with her strong-voiced Joni Mitchell-like original songs and singer-songwriter covers. A mark of things to come for young Easton, she transfixed the outdoor crowd with singing that evoked the intimacy of a Soho coffee shop. In a tender moment at the conclusion of her first tune, the resounding roar that leapt from the crowd took Easton aback and left her giggling humbly as she soaked in the cheers.

Nationally known, Brooklyn-based, Marco Benevento soon got the listeners back on their feet. Identifiable by his melding of samples, real-time loops and ragtime-sounding upright piano, Benevento’s stage setup spans decades of technology with his Mac laptop, guitar pedals and electronic keyboard sitting atop a truncated 1920s Gibbs piano originally made for entertaining on train cars.

A strong contingent of 20- and 30-somethings who came out just to see Benevento’s set were quickly up in front, digging every sample and syncopated minor chord. Likely unaware of his signature “TigerFace,” however, the stage was swarmed with giddy, cell phone-wielding, middle-aged parents when Benevento took the giant fuzzy tiger face down off the side of the piano and onto his head during an extended jam in which each member donned the costume piece, eliciting laughs from the crowd and lots of bobbing heads lost in the music of the funky ensemble. Benevento finished up the set with his catchy “Limbs of a Pine” (the tiger head prop also appears in the music video on YouTube) and a song titled simply “RISD,” which was, according to him, written during a sound check at a Rhode Island School of Design gig and “just stuck, because it works.”

The Sugar Honey Iced Tea gave the crowd a short breather with their bluegrass-styled harmonies and instrumentation while the headlining act, The Stooges Brass Band, from New Orleans, was getting set to take the stage. Once again people were up and dancing as the Stooges’ brand of traditional New Orleans brass music infused with humor and rock and hip-hop infected grooves moved even the most genteel East Siders in attendance. The Stooges’ single “Wind It Up” and a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” highlighted an energetic set that continued right up until the city Parks Department literally pulled the plug on the power at 6:25 p.m.

But music wasn’t the only thing happening. In addition to the craft vendors and food trucks that you’ll find at nearly every event in Providence, the Trinity Brewhouse ran a beer garden that was shoulder-to-shoulder with happy revelers all day long. There were activity tables for children, as well as a body-painting artist. The Avenue Concept, a nonprofit organization that fosters public art opportunities, set up an art wall for anyone to use, an attraction so popular with kids and parents alike that the paint ran out.

And to top it all off, The Sandwich Hut had a tent set up for their 50th anniversary party. Dean Weinberg, president of the Summit Neighborhood Association, arranged for a surprise appearance by Mayor Angel Taveras to give the restaurant an official commemorative citation in recognition of five decades of business and community service on the East Side.

It was a great day in the park, and the only question left now for the SNA is how they’re going to top it next year.

Survey finds neighborhood support for community gardens in ‘Tot Lot’ park

SNA tot lot

A public opinion survey conducted by SNA in collaboration with the City of Providence Parks Department shows widespread support for community gardens being included in a proposed renovation of the “Tot Lot” public park at the corner of Ninth Street and Summit Avenue.

The renovation plan, developed by landscape architect Megan Gardner of Gardner+Gerrish Landscape Architects of Providence, calls for a major overhaul of the dated park with upgrades that include shade sails, benches, tables, trees, additional swings, a trike path, toddler-friendly play structures, and more. However, some neighbors were concerned about the inclusion of a garden in the park, and so the survey was commissioned to gauge the overall community response to such an addition.

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Easter Egg Hunt

The Summit Neighborhood Association is excited to sponsor its first ever Easter Egg hunt on Saturday, March 30th in Lippitt Park. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and egg hunting starts at 10:00 a.m. Cost is $5 and proceeds go to the Neighborhood Association.

The event includes raffles, food vendors, face painting, prizes and toys for the kids, and of course… egg hunting! Our special guest for the event is Ms Rhode Island United States, Cara Lustig.

SNA Easter Egg Hunt Flyer

Easter-egg hunt proposal prompts discussion of inclusiveness

The SNA board voted at its Feb. 18 regular meeting to go ahead with an Easter-egg hunt on March 30, but only after a lengthy discussion of the implications of celebrating a Christian holiday in a neighborhood with a large Jewish population.

Some Jewish members of the board asked if the Easter event would imply that the organization is ignoring the beliefs of many members of the community, including such faiths as Muslim or Hindu, and would be insulting to them.

After some soul-searching, the board decided that the event, marking an officially recognized holiday, was being planned not with a sense of excluding people of non-Christian faiths, but with the purpose of including as many people as possible. The board debated calling it a “spring” event, but decided that “Easter eggs” were uniquely recognizable and acceptable.

Members of the board said during the discussion that they had no intention of denigrating any faiths and encourage suggestions from people of all faiths to suggest ways to celebrate the diversity of the Summit neighborhood.

Time to Act on Tree Planting

Just in time to lift spirits from the gloom of clearing walks and driveways of snow, the deadline for getting new trees in the neighborhood is rapidly approaching.

Tom Schmeling, a board member of the SNA and a former “tree captain” for 12th Street, points out that the spring Providence Neighborhood Planting Program cutoff date is Jan. 15, so now is the time to act.

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