A group of artists, scientists, educators, and residents who want to promote the health of urban ponds will march in a parade later today in Providence for the eighth year in a row. Mashapaug Pond and its watershed in the Pawtuxet River basin are the centerpieces of the Urban Pond Procession. The pond is on the state’s list of impaired waters. It’s not a safe body of water in which to swim or fish.
The procession, focused on water this year, returns with its distinct handmade art by students from schools in the south side of Providence.
Holly Ewald, founder and artistic director of UPP Arts, formerly known as the Urban Pond Procession, said third graders from Reservoir Avenue Elementary School learned about plankton, microscopic marine organisms that are the base of the food chain.
They made plankton puppets to carry in the procession, while some middle and high school students worked on dying fabrics, “…learning a little bit about the history of textiles in Rhode Island and the use of water in that industry.”
Students from Sofia Academy made a clean river quilt that’s 70-feet-long, which they will carry in the procession above their heads, as people will “swim” in and out of the clean river quilt. The procession’s water ceremony will feature ceramic fish vessels and percussion instruments.
Ninth graders from Alvarez High School have been learning about activist art and global issues around water, such as “the problem with drought in California, plastic in our waterways, and also learning about flooding, which is a concern here in Rhode Island,” said Ewald. “They’ve been learning about the value of clean healthy water and so they’ve been working on banners, which they will be carrying in the procession.”
City Arts Youth, Extraordinary Rendition Band, Extraordinary Youth Ensemble, Big Nazo Puppets, The Dynamic New Force Steppers, Young people from City Arts, and other local artists will also participate in the procession.
“It’s an opportunity to bring lots of different people together and to bring kids from different schools together, from schools very close to Mashapaug Pond,” said Ewald. “We’re trying to raise awareness about the plight of Mashapaug Pond and drawing attention to the pond, so that more people will understand how they can be instrumental in reducing the amount of pollutants that are going into that pond,” such as picking up pet waste and reducing the amount of fertilizers in yards.
“We do this every year and over time, I think people are getting the message and hopefully we could have some change and get some more green infrastructure in our city,” said Ewald.
The procession will begin at 5 p.m. at the Mashapaug Boating Center and make its way to the Temple of Music at Roger Williams Park.
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