Celebrating Earth Day

I wrote the following report in May of 2017 for the Sammamish Arts Council as a record of my contribution to the city’s Earth Day celebration in Sammamish, Washington. It was a windy day, threatening rain, which kept participation low. See also “Haiku on Sticks.”

On 22 April 2017, I helped to celebrate Earth Day on the Sammamish Commons campus by installing more than 100 English-language haiku on bamboo sticks inserted into the ground. I planted these sticks from the top of the stairs at the City Hall Plaza all the way down to the picnic shelter in the Lower Commons Area. The poems were up from about 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. I observed many people stopping to read these poems, which were written by members of the Haiku Northwest group. In addition, I led a guided walk past all the poems, with about half a dozen participants. We took turns reading the poems as we walked from stick to stick, and discussed techniques for writing haiku in English, including the season word and two-part structure. I gave participants a “Haiku Writing Checklist,” plus a child-focused “How to Haiku” handout to a child who participated at the beginning. The wind proved to be a challenge for the day, and blew some of the poems down temporarily (we kept putting a few of them back on their sticks), but the rain held off until 1:00 pm. While the entire event seemed to have limited attendance, no doubt because of the cool and windy weather, my sense is that those who came on the walk enjoyed learning about haiku as a poetic means of interacting with one’s world and in honoring the earth. One person said “I didn’t know that about haiku” (that it didn’t have to be 5-7-5 syllables in English, and that it traditionally refers to a season, thus tying the poem to nature). The child who participated said she was studying haiku at her school and that she liked reading the poems on display. I hope the haiku installation and walk provided a fresh way to celebrate Earth Day through nature-focused poetry. My gratitude to the Sammamish Arts Council, Sammamish Walks, and Haiku Northwest for supporting this event.