An encore concert, featuring Scott Lindberg and friends. With blues, sing-alongs, children’s song, and their featured number, “Ode to the Glen.” $7 in advance, $10 at the door. Auditorium.
an exploration in birdsong, sound and movement
When first perusing this press release, I was not really certain into which section of DaytonMostMetro.com to place this article. When I first spoke with fellow onStageDayton contributor Rodney Veal about this, my assumption was that this project he was so excited about would be featured in the “oSD” section. Maybe, however, it belongs in the “Dayton Music” section as the project prominently features a very accomplished violinist, Shaw Pong Lui from Boston, participating through a residency here in the Gem City with the Blue Sky Project.
As I uncovered more details about the project it seemed that maybe it should be in the “Arts & Entertainment” section since it seems to equally features the creative choreography of Rodney Veal, alongside Liu’s musicality. The further I read, the more difficult this classification task became. Here is a collaboration between a dancer, a musician AND nature. The performance takes place along the trails of Aullwood Garden MetroPark with the dancers and musicians mimicking the sounds and sights of the trails. Perhaps we need to put this in “Active Living.” The audience has to build up a bit of a sweat during this particular concert, as they will have to traverse the trails. They even warn you to wear hiking shoes!
Then you throw in the iPod aspect. Holy Cow! Do we even have a “Technology & Arts” section? Audience members can participate in the performance through the use of a special birdsong app! ? ! This is pretty cool.
Alright. Looking at this, pondering the various aspects…the birds, the trees, the dance, the music…I am making an executive decision here: “Life.”
(fully expecting our illustrious publisher to override this decision and choose the perfect classification for this article)
Official Blue Sky Project Press Release:
Dayton, Ohio — Musicians, dancers and birders will come together for an unusual open-air art event in one of the Miami Valley’s most distinctive woodland parks.
The Blue Sky Project, in collaboration with the University of Dayton and Five Rivers MetroParks, will present “Translations: an exploration in birdsong, sound and movement” 6 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at the Aullwood Garden MetroPark, 955 Aullwood Road, Englewood, Ohio. It’s free and open to the public.
Violinist Shaw Pong Liu and choreographer Rodney Veal created the work, which invites audience members to walk along trails throughout the garden, encountering violinists mimicking birdsongs, dancers improvising on the shapes of trees and birders with iPods contributing the real songs of birds.
“The point of the piece is to get people to slow down and pay attention to the environment,” Liu said. “We lead such busy lives, it is rare to take time to attune to the environment, and truly listen. Through this creative exploration of a hidden gem in the Dayton community, we hope to inspire others to listen and see their environments more deeply.”
Liu said the piece is very much in the spirit of the garden’s founder, the late Marie Aull, who opened and donated the garden to the public, and placed inspirational quotes throughout, encouraging visitors to enjoy nature and meditate on its beauty.
Participants include professional musicians from the area, dancers from the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and the Dayton Ballet, and birders familiar with the region’s birds.
Liu said the some paths go over rugged terrain and recommended appropriate footwear. iPhone users may also participate by downloading iBird Explorer Lite, a free app, before the performance.
Liu’s role as community artist/investigator for Blue Sky is new for the organization, a juried international summer artist residency now in its seventh year and its third based in Dayton, that brings internationally recognized artists to the area to work with young people on public, contemporary art.
The new position was prompted by Liu’s work in 2010 with Blue Sky and the community connections she made, according to Peter Benkendorf, founder and co-creator.
“Collaboration and community are central to both Blue Sky Project and the University of Dayton. It’s exciting to see Blue Sky expand through an artist who is taking the Blue Sky model beyond collaboration of program participants, and out to the larger community,” said Benkendorf.
It’s a good fit for the University, according to Paul Benson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, because it combines the University’s commitment to community and its interest in infusing the creative process into education.
Blue Sky also makes good use of ArtStreet, an innovative living and arts community on campus, where the artists both live and make art in the facility’s studios, Benson said.
“We are pleased to support Blue Sky as well the new community artist/investigator position as part of our ongoing commitment to expand the arts on campus and in the community,” he said.
“Translations” is the second major collaboration for Liu and Veal. Their 2010 production “Of a River” transformed the Schuster Center Wintergarden with dancers, musicians and 600 yards of silk.
Liu is a Boston-based, classically trained violinist who performs internationally and creates innovative shows involving improvised music, narration and audience interaction. Her ongoing project, “A Bird a Day,” explores birds, sunrises and music at www.abirdaday.org.
Dayton native Rodney Veal is a choreographer and interdisciplinary artist whose work has been featured at the Ohio Dance Festival, among others. Veal teaches at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton and Sinclair Community College. A solo show of his work, “Reveal: Five Zones on Beauty,” opens July 23 at the Springfield Museum of Art.”
For information on Blue Sky and the “Transitions” performance, including an alternative venue in case of rain, visit http://www.blueskydayton.org
SANCTUARY composed by Shaw Pong Liu (4/28/2011)
I’ve learned so much about insects during my tenure here. Admittedly, I still treat six-legged home invaders to an up-close view of the bottom of my boot, but I can at least acknowledge that most creatures play an important role in nature. (For instance, mosquitoes contribute to S.C. Johnson’s bottom line via repellent; therefore, mosquitoes stimulate the economy. Right? Oh, Econ 101, why were you an 8 a.m. class?)
But there are some bugs that truly are pests, and one little green beetle is changing the North American landscape forever. Unlike another invasive Beatle invasion that resulted in mop tops and rock ‘n’ roll, the emerald ash borer, hailing from Asia, has an insatiable appetite for ash trees, consuming nearly all trees in its wake.
Researchers have traced the beetle’s likely arrival to a contaminated wooden palette shipment that landed in Detroit. From there, the beetle’s devastation has been spreading outward, and its effects are already being felt in the greater Dayton region. A visit to Carriage Hill MetroPark will attest to this. Five Rivers MetroParks is starting the process of removing potentially hazardous trees. Why?
The beetle is a wood-boring insect, meaning it tunnels into trees and lays its eggs. Those eggs hatch into translucent pulp-munching machines; the larvae carve winding “galleries” into the tree’s phloem, which is like the plant’s cardiovascular system, delivering vital nutrients from the ground to the branches. Trees are quite literally “suffocated” once the borer consumes the phloem, and at this point, when the tree is already mostly dead, is when symptoms start to appear. Top branches die first, and lack of water has made them very brittle. It doesn’t take much to bring those branches down, which is why the safest option is to remove the entire tree before it becomes a danger. North American species of ash have no natural defenses against this insect like Asian species, leaving the invasive insects free to enjoy a gluttonous feast.
After a recent survey, it is estimated that ash trees comprise about 30 percent of the canopy of all 15,000 acres of MetroParks. Park services, the conservation staff and education staff have come together to create a comprehensive plan to manage our natural areas in the most effective manner. Chemical treatment options are available, and Five Rivers MetroParks has a list of about 600 trees, which will have to be inoculated every two years for the next 15-20 years. Trees were chosen based on species preservation (like the rare pumpkin ash), and location (because of other structures or surroundings, it is not feasible to remove the tree) among other considerations. Trees in or around public areas, including parking lots, picnic sites, hiking trails and other locations that are not being treated must be removed. This project is a huge undertaking that will cost millions of dollars to the agency, but one that cannot be ignored.
Sounds like a bummer, right? Well, concede that in today’s global economy, these things will happen. It’s not the first time humans’ mobility has disrupted nature (remember Dutch elm disease), and it won’t be the last. A disease affecting conifers already is on the horizon. So what’s a tree hugger to do? Why, get involved in the reforestation project, of course!
MetroParks horticulturalists have been busy this fall collecting seeds and propagating them to grow into seedlings. I can tell you there are row and rows of flats of seedlings and two refrigerators full of nuts right now at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. The first phase of reforestation will be to grow and care for these babies, and here’s where you come in: Sign up to be a Forest Foster Family. These volunteers will “adopt” a flat of seedlings to raise in their own homes for about a year and then take them to a designated MetroPark area to plant. Don’t worry, we’ll give you detailed instruction on care of your future forests. Flats will be prepped for distribution around this coming spring, and by spring of 2012, those healthy little seedlings should be ready for their new MetroPark home. Learn more in the winter issue of ParkWays available now.
If you’re interested in signing up or learning more, contact or volunteer services coordinators Kevin Kepler or Janelle Leonard at (937) 275-PARK (7275). The bug is here, and there’s not much we can do to stop it from consuming our forests, but we can make a difference and increase biodiversity so we will be ready for whatever comes next.
As a former journalist, the election season has always been an exciting time for me, but when I took up my mantle with Five Rivers MetroParks, I would be on the other side of the proverbial punch card. No longer simply an observer, I kicked off my new career with a tall order—volunteer with the MetroParks levy campaign. Through those months of phone calls and canvassing, I discovered that many Dayton area residents knew of the MetroParks closest to their home, but weren’t aware of the total number of parks, or the number of acres we protect. I thought it would be appropriate today to give you a little overview of each of our facilities.
- Aullwood Garden MetroPark: This 31-acre garden situated on the edge of Englewood MetroPark is the former home of John and Marie Aull, whose world-wide travels inspired this luxurious shade garden. Lenten roses and other choice shade plants are featured at this estate garden.
- Carriage Hill MetroPark: Take a trip back in time at this preserved 1880s historical farm.
Children love to learn about agricultural and professional skills popular during the turn of the 20thCentury. This 900-acre park, located in Huber Heights, also offers hiking and equestrian trails as well as fishing ponds, a 14-acre lake, and the nearby Carriage Hill Riding Center, where trail and pony rides are offered April through October.
- Cox Arboretum MetroPark: Mature forests populate this 189-acre park south of Dayton near Moraine and Miamisburg, along with diverse gardens, such as the Edible Landscape Garden and the Clematis Arbor. The Butterfly House is a favorite summertime destination to view native butterflies and moths in various stages of metamorphosis.
- Deeds Point MetroPark: The landscape beds this park perched downtown along the Great Miami River offer visitors a floral garden paradise in an urban setting.
- Eastwood MetroPark: Paddle in the 185-acre lake, ride the Mad River bikeway, fish in the lagoon or river or hike 3 miles of wooded and open meadow trails in this park just off State Route 4 near Riverside. Both the Buckeye and North Country National Scenic trails run through this park. This is the site of the annual GearFest recreation celebration, which takes place in the fall.
- Englewood MetroPark: The potential for recreation is endless in this 1,900-acre park. Choose from 12 miles
of scenic trails, 3.5 miles of bridle trails, paddling on the Stillwater River, and great spots for fishing. This park also boasts a unique feature—an 18-hole disc golf course. Disc golf is an easy-to-learn activity that involves throwing flying discs into a “basket” situated a distance from the starting point.
- Germantown MetroPark: The size, quality and age of the woodlands make this 1,665-acre park the most diverse of the natural areas. The park also contains large open grasslands, cedar glades and dry hillside prairies. One popular weekend attraction (particularly for birders) is the Nature Center with its Window on Wildlife.
- Hills & Dales MetroPark: This Olmsted-designed park has 63 acres of native plants and landscaped areas situated in the crux of Kettering, Oakwood and Dayton. Recently renovated to restore its former beauty, this park boasts 2 miles of wooded trails, including the Adirondack boardwalk that gives visitors a tour of the wetlands.
- Huffman MetroPark: One of the most prominent amenities of this park located just east of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is MoMBA, the MetroParks Mountain Biking Area. About 8 miles of track snake their way through this wooded sub-facility. MoMBA’s trails are constructed to help the novice gain mountain biking confidence and challenge the most experienced rider.
- Island MetroPark: Towering sycamore and cottonwood trees lend shade to those seeking respite from the bustling city in this 33-acre park, located just north of downtown Dayton. Landscaped beds, a seasonal water playground, picnic shelters and the historic bandshell are other hallmarks of this park.
- PNC 2nd Street Market: Pick up farm-fresh produce, meats,cheeses, eggs and dry goods as well as flowers, wine, jewelry, soaps,gifts and more. The Market highlights the growers, producers and
artisans we have right here in the greater Dayton region. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
- Possum Creek MetroPark: Head southwest of downtown Dayton to find this 556-acre park and enjoy its many amenities, such as Polly Possum’s Math Farm, fishing ponds, historic Argonne Forest, 100-plus-acre planted prairies and the sustainable farm.
- RiverScape MetroPark: Downtown Dayton’s favorite hangout has become an indelible icon with its fountains and renovated amenities. The covered pavilion provides shade for summer concert and festival-goers in the summer and doubles as an outdoor skating rink in the winter. Cyclists who commute or ride for recreation have welcomed the new bike hub. Children can splash around in the interactive fountains or get a brief history on Dayton’s innovative past while traveling the Dayton Inventor’s River Walk.
- Sugarcreek MetroPark: This diverse area—with all stages of succession, mature forests, a trio of 500-year old white oaks, varied topography, a planted prairie, meadows and scenic Sugar Creek—is located near the Bellbrook area. Its trails are popular among trail runners, dog walkers and equestrians.
- Sunrise MetroPark: The walkways of this tiny urban oasis, conveniently located just north of downtown Dayton, are filled with stunning views of the city’s skyline. Prairie plantings and wildflowers draw in wildlife from the adjacent river habitat, and make the park a serene spot for relaxing. Catch a glimpse of the large and graceful blue herons that frequent the area.
- Taylorsville MetroPark: There’s no shortage of history or nature to encounter along this 1,300-acre park’s 13 miles of trails, nestled just outside Vandalia. Visitors also can link up with the Buckeye and North Country
trails. The Buckeye Trail completely encircles Ohio and is over 1,200 miles long. The North Country Trailextends into seven states and will be the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States when completed.
- Twin Creek MetroPark: This 1,000-acre park situated in the southwest corner of Montgomery County is home to 20 miles of hiking trails, 7 miles of equestrian trails, and ample access to the Twin Creek, one of Ohio’s cleanest waterways. Hike the Twin Valley Trail, a 22-mile backpacking trail connecting Twin Creek and Germantown MetroParks.
- Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark: With about eight different formal garden areas, this north Dayton park is a haven for plant lovers, featuring something in bloom nearly year-round. The Children’s Discovery Garden here offers fun and learning through the joy of gardening. Visitors can also enjoy paved bikeways and the Marie Aull Nature Trail.
- Wesleyan MetroPark: Home to Adventure Central, a program aimed at getting urban youth engaged in the outdoors, this 55-acre park offers its west Dayton neighbors a place to enjoy nature, whether hiking on 1.5 miles of trail, cycling along the Wolf Creek Bikeway, playing on the playground equipment or fishing in Wolf Creek.
Now that you know a little bit about each park and its respective subfacilities, plan your next adventure today.
Greetings Daytonians! I’m Val Beerbower, a Jack-of-all-pens writer, novice cook, bad movie paramour and public relations specialist with Five Rivers MetroParks. I’ll admit, I wasn’t much of an “outdoorsy” person when I took up my marketing mantle in the summer of 2009, but since then , my journey with this park system has opened my eyes to a world of educational experiences, recreational opportunities and conservation principles that are waiting right in your own back yard. For those who have a little trepidation approaching nature and haven’t quite wrapped your head around tree hugging methods, fear not. I shall be your guide to Dayton’s Wild Side, taking the baby steps right along with you. Together, we’ll divest ourselves of the remote or mouse and step outside into the glaring, glorious light of day. I promise it won’t hurt a bit.
Let’s start with something easy – fall color. Who doesn’t like pretty trees? I learned that shedding leaves is a survival strategy for the trees. Broad leaves from deciduous trees, even though they collect a huge amount of sunlight for photosynthesis, do require more energy from the tree to maintain. Because Ohio winters are dark and dry, it’s easier for the tree to just shed the leaves and remain dormant until the warmer months return.
Leaves change color for a variety of reasons. Some leaves are naturally yellow or orange, but the activity of photosynthesis (process plants use to turn sunlight into glucose) produces a green hue that overpowers any other color present in the leaf. When photosynthesis shuts down, the other colors shine through. In other instances, the glucose gets trapped inside the leaf and the hues you see are actually the sugars (maples are a vibrant example).
If you want to learn more, there are a few programs you might want to attend:
For hike ideas and places to spot fall’s radiant color (hurry! Limited quantities available while supplies last!), visit metroparks.org/FallColor.
Possum Creek MetroPark’s Hidden History
As Spring hurtles uncontrollably into Summer, my mind reaches out to find the activities I can do outside. My own definition of “outdoor activities,” however, has little or nothing to do with being active at all. More to the point, I like to try and find places where it can appear that I’m doing some sort of activity, while remaining completely inactive. Fishing usually fits this bill. I will confess here that I have rarely ever caught a fish (which would go against my goal of being inert) and sometimes, to insure that some fish with either a death wish or a very slow mental acuity won’t inadvertently leap onto my baited hook, I usually fish with no bait. This serves a twofold purpose: one, a fish will generally avoid my barren hook in search of a more agreeable dinner, thereby allowing me to remain in a seated position and two, it makes it so that I don’t have to put my hands near any icky worms which, on especially humid days, feel much like a semi-solidified string of undulating snot. I guess that while I’m confessing things here, I might as well add that, even if I had the misfortune of catching a fish, I would throw it back as I can’t stand to eat fish and I can assure you that a mounted fish on my wall would definitely clash with my rather eclectic form of interior design. Moving on…
On one of my excursions, I was trying not to fish on the shore of one of the lakes, but my wife insisted that I bait my hook so that I could catch her a catfish to fry up that evening. Not wanting to exert that much energy trying to reel in a catfish, let alone the potential injuries I may sustain from the stinging barbels, I convinced her that all the good catfish were in the middle of the lake. I got out my trusty inflatable raft and, utilizing the convenient foot pump, filled it with air and pushed off from the shore. Now I could actually lie down in public without seeming as if I were a lazy ne’er-do-well. This was pure genius. Well, while I was floating about on the water, I noticed some splashing and activity nearby. I didn’t even dare to have a hook on for fear that a catfish might be attracted to the shiny metal and hook it’s stupid self, so I just kept casting sinker in the general vicinity of the splashing, which seemed to create more splashing. From the shore, I’m sure that it must have looked impressive. Well, the splashing began to come closer to where I was floating and, after a few more casts, seemed to make a beeline directly for me. Now, I’ve seen Jaws I and II, so a tremor of fear trickled down my back until I remembered that the Great Whites were destined for deeper waters than those found at Possum Creek. I was rather shocked, however, when the splashing got really, really close and I found it to be caused by a very pissed off beaver that I had apparently conked in the head several times with my sinker. Apparently there are a literal ton of these flat tailed rodents gnawing about Possum Creek and, thankfully, I was able to extricate myself from the situation unscathed.
The walking trails are incredibly intriguing as well. You can explore areas that range from lakeside trails to wildflower fields to farmland and then into a beech tree forest, full of loamy trails and deep ravines. This is where I found some things that struck me as odd and made me explore the history of the park further. I came across a massive trestle, a large square expanse of concrete and several rusted out trolley car frames sitting inexplicably in the middle of the woods. The name of the woods also intrigued me: Argonne Forest. While it may sound like something out of Lord of the Rings, history’s most famous forest of the same name was a deadly battle site during World War I. Why would someone name a forest in Dayton after the site of such an epic battle?
In the late eighteen-hundreds, a boy was born named Null M. Hodapp. His boyhood friend was a boy named Ralph Clemons with whom he shared many adventures. They grew into adulthood together and enlisted in the Army to fight the Germans in World War I. In a sadly ironic twist of fate, Ralph was killed mere hours before the Armistice Treaty was signed. Ralph’s death was devastating to Hodapp as he returned to Dayton to resume his life. He eventually married LoRean D. Hodapp and became a widely regarded judge in the Dayton area. In the 1930s, Hodapp purchased 400 acres around Germantown Pike and dubbed the land Argonne Forest Park, in memory of his friend and the place in which he had died. The first building that was constructed was a clubhouse for veterans. Eventually, the park consisted of a dance pavilion, a horse track, a car racetrack, a shooting range and a swimming hole with a diving platform. “Swimming hole” is more than a slight misnomer as the “hole” was actually constructed by building a huge wall to block the Possum Creek, which created a massive swimming area replete with diving platforms, the remnants of which can still be seen today. Hodapp also bought several streetcars from the Oakwood-Dayton lines to be used as impromptu cabins and for the children to play in. Hodapp would also perform the Battle of Argonne Forest every Fourth of July, in memory of 322nd Field Artillery Unit who had fought there during World War I.
As the world moved into the next War, rationing and depletion of money contributed to the eventual demise of the park. Some sections were sold off, but the bulk of the park remained and was made into what is now known as Possum Creek MetroPark. Walking amongst the paths and seeing the relics of a bygone era, one can almost squint and see the shrieking children cannonballing off the diving platform or hear the music and the shuffling feet scrape over the dance hall floor. The grandeur is gone, but the memory remains indelibly etched into the sodden trails and the swaying branches of the forest.