Somerville’s tiniest urban wild will be home to the “Starting Over Festival,” a free Arbor Day and Earth Day festival organized by the Somerville Arts Council and Wonderland editor Greg Cook at the Quincy Street Open Space, 16 Quincy St., from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Rain date: April 29.) The festival’s title is meant to evoke the new beginnings of spring as well as turning over a new leaf socially and politically.

Jef Taylor, of Boston’s Urban Nature Walks group, leads a tour during the 2017 "Tiny Great Outdoors Festival." (Greg Cook)
Jef Taylor, of Boston’s Urban Nature Walks group, leads a tour during the 2017 “Tiny Great Outdoors Festival.” (Greg Cook)

Join a scientist on a tiny hike in the park exploring wildlife here in Somerville. Help plant a tree and take home a free seedling. Hear poetry. Participate in activities, games and art. Bring clean, unwanted clothing for a free clothing swap – or donate your clothes to be recycled.

During the festival, you can explore the park on your own using a subway-style map designed by Rajiv Raman. Tour the park with Jef C. Taylor of Boston’s Urban Nature Walks group. He’s a naturalist specializing in urban wildlife, bugs, mushrooms, creepy crawlies and weird stuff. Hear spoken-word poetry by Eddy Toussaint Tontongi, a Haitian immigrant who plans to read his poem responding to Donald Trump’s insults of his homeland, and by Marshall Gillson, who was a National Poetry Slam finalist as a member of the 2016 House Slam team from Boston’s Haley House.

Paint mosaic-style animals with muralist Liz LaManche. Make animal masks to take home with Kari Percival (who made the event poster). See Andy Pepper’s sculpture of a fallen tree truck made from recycled plastic wrap and cartoonist Ansis Purins’s banner-murals. Try out worm-bin composting with Groundwork Somerville. Learn about how we can reduce our carbon output and live more sustainably by playing educational games presented by the city’s SustainaVille program.

The idea for the Starting Over Festival was dreamed up by Greg Cook, the freelance event planner behind the Pity Party in 2015, the Tiny Tall Ships Festival in 2016 and the Tiny Great Outdoors Festival 2017. He created the festival to celebrate “urban wilds,” a term for what are often small pockets of nature within our cities.

The Quincy Street Open Space is one of these urban parks. Located on the site of a burned down house, it’s been reclaimed as a tiny sustainable woodland landscape created in a dense, residential urban neighborhood.

Presentation Schedule:
Arts and crafts workshops and well as info tables will go on throughout. Here are scheduled presentations:
12:15 p.m. Nature walk with Jef Taylor (10-12 minutes)
12:30 to 1 p.m. Tree planting
1 p.m. Nature walk with Jef Taylor
1:15 p.m. Poetry by Eddy Toussaint Tontongi (10-12 min) and then Marshall Gillson (10-12 min).

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Planting a tree during the 2017 "Tiny Great Outdoors Festival." (Greg Cook)
Planting a tree during the 2017 “Tiny Great Outdoors Festival.” (Greg Cook)
Andy Pepper’s sculpture "Timber."
Andy Pepper’s sculpture “Timber.”
Liz LaManche.
Liz LaManche.
Antis Purins "Phone Bird."
Antis Purins “Phone Bird.”
Rajiv Raman's subway-style map of Somerville's Quincy Street Open Space.
Rajiv Raman’s subway-style map of Somerville’s Quincy Street Open Space.
"Starting Over Festival" poster by Kari Percival.
“Starting Over Festival” poster by Kari Percival.