By Kat Sawyer
Each year on the third Monday in January, The Watershed Project (TWP) and other local organizations in the Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) network come together to lead a day of service and volunteerism on the Richmond greenway to honor Martin Luther King’s legacy. We knew this year’s event would have to be different given the pandemic, so our Executive Director, Juliana Gonzalez, suggested that we create a self-guided walk with interactive stations along the greenway to offer people a way to celebrate the holiday safely. We call this installation the “Walk of Dreams”, as it is a physical manifestation of gratitude and hope inspired by Martin Luther King. The stations will display dreams from community members, as well as highlight local environmental leaders who embody the dream of the civil rights movement in spirit and deed.
Months ago, while weeding TWP’s bioswale on the greenway, water quality coordinator Satoko Mills became inspired and suggested that we build a wishing wall and invite the public to add their dreams to it. Working and maintaining the greenway often naturally sparks questions about hopes and dreams; What are our hopes for the greenway? What are our hopes for Richmond? What is my hope for myself? Change, growth, love, revolution. We like the idea of having a living sculpture that grows and embodies the dreams we have as people interact with it.
As a builder and designer, I then began to imagine a structure that could display additional information and provide a way for embellishments to be added; a kiosk with square grid panels attached to a bi-fold frame. Soon thereafter, a prototype constructed by TWP staff was erected using organic elements such as willow poles and manzanita branches. Our dreams are displayed on pieces of fabric that are tied to the panel. This idea represents a physical expression of our dreams for the future, our community and the world.
We invite you to share your dreams, hopes and intentions for the future with us in a word, a phrase or a paragraph. Although we would love to have hundreds of community members on the greenway, writing down and sharing dreams, we must be safe. As an alternative, we have designed an online version of the Walk of Dreams so we can transcribe your words onto fabric strips that tie onto the structure. Our collective dreams will be woven together to dance in the wind, coming alive with color, movement and meaning.
In honor of Martin Luther King, share your dreams here.
On the weekend before the MLK Day of Service, we will install our Walk of Dreams panels on the Richmond Greenway near Unity Park. In addition to highlighting work of Martin Luther King, they will feature four local heroes: Juliana Gonzalez, Lillie Mae Jones, Toody Maher and Doria Robinson.
Each day we are reminded that the struggle for justice, dignity and equality embodied in Martin Luther King’s life remains painfully relevant. 2020 was a flashpoint year highlighted by persistent conditions of systemic racism and police violence in America. It is disheartening that the unjust conditions confronted by the civil rights movement of the 60’s have not been remedied, but we can celebrate the spirit of a new generation of leaders and allies that have added their voices to the movement. And the struggle continues….and the struggle to find hope continues…and the hope continues.
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly . . . ”━Dr. King’s 1967 Christmas sermon