A month or so ago, I put out a call on Facebook looking for folks who’d be willing and able to take some fennel off my hands, as bunches of it were growing like freaky plants on steroids and were producing way more greenery than any human would ever need.
Among the friends who heeded the shout-out was Bellingham resident Holly Swanson. She was thinking ahead to the Sunnyland Stomp, she told me, and was going to use the leaves of the plant to make fennel syrup for the Hawaiian shaved ice she was planning on serving at the annual neighborhood party.
When I ran into Swanson last week, she reported that the fennel syrup had joined the lineup of clever concoctions she’d made for the Stomp, and she was working to get her garden space in shape for the event that sees residents of the Sunnyland neighborhood creating temporary outdoor galleries in their yards every July.
In addition to the shaved ice, Swanson’s gallery, dubbed “Forever Summer,” will also feature chalk art, origami and garden stakes for sale. Like those of her neighbors that are also taking part in the seasonal celebration, Swanson was able to pick and choose what she wanted to highlight during the event.
A quick glance at the unique lineup for the event proves this point. On the group’s Facebook page, for example, a recent entry pointed out some of the things that can be found by perusing the 17 temporary galleries. Among the highlights were: puppets, prints, paintings, jewelry, T-shirts, Belgian beer samples, artisan food samples, fruit spreads, photography, painted songs, “rock ‘n’ roll for the eyeballs,” contemporary folk art, stuffed dolls and creatures, Day of the Dead paintings, metal work, art projects for kids of all ages, felted creatures, sculpture, lino cuts, mosaics, silk scarves, Salish tribal wood carvings, antique cards, scrimshaw, recycled record art, vegan chocolates, ceramics and giant bubbles. And that’s not all.
“Over the past three years we’ve had a huge positive response from both those who have taken part in the event as well as people from the community in general who just come to the neighborhood to check it out,” Stomp organizer and event cofounder Alice Clark says.
Clark and a few of her Sunnyland neighbors started the Stomp four years ago as a way to both show off the neighborhood they live in and share their creative talents with the rest of Bellingham. Inspired by the outdoor gallery concept that has its roots in Sweden, the event is a way to share the best of summer with friends, neighbors and those who are simply looking for an interesting way to spend a sunny Saturday.
Since its inception, the event has not only grown in size and scope, but also garnered a Mayor’s Arts Award and proven to be a viable way to showcase the talents of just one sector of Bellingham.
While other neighborhoods haven’t gotten in on the action just yet, I’d like to think the York Neighborhood—where I live—will help make Swanson’s “Forever Summer” a success. At the very least, I’ll have to stop by the gallery to get a fennel-flavored shaved ice and talk over the concept of a citywide art collaboration.
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