Presented by: Florida Earth Festival, The League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County, and The City of Delray Beach.
Delray Beach’s HighWaterLine project did its art magic on Saturday, April 25, 2015 as the city’s observance of Earth Month 2015. The project was part of a broad initiative supported by a coalition of non-partisan non-profit organizations (the Climate Action Coalition of South Florida) to engage the public in dialogue about the social ramifications of sea level rise and extreme weather. An important priority for the project was to increase grass roots support for integrating the recommendations of the Southeast Florida Climate Action Compact into comprehensive plans of Palm Beach County and all its municipalities. Delray Beach was chosen as the HighWaterLine project site because it is one of the first cities in Palm Beach County to pass a resolution in support of the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact (Mayor’s Climate Action Pledge – Delray Beach), has begun adaptation efforts, and has appointed a citizen task force to make recommendations regarding sea level rise.
The focus of the project was on the city’s history (Delray Beach historical timeline). The HighWaterLine was therefore chalked in three historic neighborhoods at significant risk due to rising water. The historic neighborhoods were highlighted in order for the public to understand the history that could be lost if sea level rise, and other climate disruptions, proceed without the planning suggested in the Southeast Florida Climate Action Plan.
The three Delray Beach neighborhoods chosen for the HighWaterLine project were:
- the Nassau Park Historic District, on the barrier island East of the Intracoastal Waterway, with many homes and other structures dating to the early 20th Century;
- the Marina Historic District on the “mainland” (west) side of the Intracoastal Waterway
- “Frog Alley,” the city’s historically black community, founded in 1900 by Bahamian workers recruited to work on building the railroad and in the pineapple fields. Frog Alley is currently under consideration as an historic district.
The HighWaterLine Delray Beach project featured four all day simultaneous art interventions, from 7 AM to 10 PM, located along the chalked lines in each of the chosen neighborhoods. The purpose of these art interventions was to draw public awareness to the chalked lines in these neighborhoods, where the water is likely to rise significantly (up to 4 feet above sea level) over the next decade.
The focus of the four art interventions along the HighWaterLine was on:
- the city’s excellent park system, especially those parks that would be seriously impacted by a four foot sea level rise. In the six parks targeted, an art treasure hunt was fielded. Crews hid (in plain site), small hot pink tiles attached to tiny pink flags. Visitors to Veterans’ Park at water’s edge on the city’s main street, Atlantic Avenue, were encouraged to visit one of the parks, find a pink “talisman” and return it to receive a 6”x6” tile painted by a local artist with a design, representing something that will be lost when the sea takes over. Tiles were awarded after each successful treasure hunter explained, on video, what they would most miss most in the park they visited, when the park was no longer useable due to sea level rise.
- selected stormdrains, two or more in each of the targeted neighborhoods, that are either already overtopping in major rain events, or will be, as the seas rise. An artist team, assisted by community members and youth from the area, completed seven murals at problematic stormdrains in each of the three targeted neighborhoods.The murals, painted on the street, with nontoxic tempera, called for action on infrastructure improvement, water conservation and adaptation. The targeted stormdrains were selected by city staff.
- a “Message Mural” installed at Veterans’ Park all day, on which visitors and Delray Beach residents were encouraged to express their wishes about action on Sea Level Rise; and
- a “blue light procession” lighting the three neighborhood chalked lines at night as the culmination of Delray Beach’s HighWaterLine observance of Earth Day 2015. Residents and visitors lined up along all three lines at dusk, switching on blue LED lights as the sun set, then, in procession, moved along the lines and down the city’s main street, Atlantic Avenu, to Veterans’ Park. Here, to a live band’s rendition of Neil Young’s Earth Day anthem, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up for the Earth,” a community dance “blue light” finale choreographed by Dale Andree, founder of National Water Dance, was performed, featuring dance phrases recalling the movement of water.
Also occurring simultaneously throughout the day were canvassing efforts to gather information on citizens’ perceptions about the threat posed by sea level rise, to be used in policy advocacy efforts and scientific research; and the gathering of personal oral histories recorded on videotape. The oral histories will be available to researchers in the archives of Delray Beach’s African American history museum, The Spady Historical Heritage Museum.
With gratitude to:
Creator of HighWaterLine and Consulting Artist: Eve Mosher
Consulting HighWaterLine Artist: Heidi Quante
HighWaterLine Delray Beach Co-Producers: Barbara Eriv Janice Taylor Booher
Sponsors of HighWaterLine Delray Beach: The League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County, The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, Florida Earth Festival, U.S. Green Building Council of South Florida, FAU Pine Jog Environmental Center,The City of Delray Beach, Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts and Social Justice, Climate Action Coalition of South Florida
Additional Participating Organizations: First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches , Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group, Audubon Society of the Everglades, Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, MoveOn Council of South Palm Beach – North Broward,Organizing for Action of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, The Delray Beach Rising Waters Task Force, Quaker Earthcare Witness
Participating Scholars: Keren Prize Bolter, Ph.D. Florida Atlantic University, Center for Environmental Studies, Sandra Norman, Ph.D. Florida Atlantic University Department of History
The Arts Collaborations:
- Arts Collaborations Planning Committee: Mary Jo Aagerstoun, Ken Horkavy, Elle Schorr, Carolyn Pendleton-Parker, Francesca Mallows, Sharon Koskoff
- The “Message Mural:” Design: Sharon Koskoff Painting: Fifth Graders, Plumosa Elementary School of the Arts
- The Stormdrain Murals: Director/Lead organizer: Jesse Etelson
- Lead artists: Jesse Etelson, Kimberly Heise, Amber Reed, Leonardo Hinojosa, K’Tavious Walker, Jeff Needle, Francesca Mallows
- Community artists: Agata Ren, Faye Pelosi, Delray Students First
- The Art Treasure Hunt: Lead Artists: Sharon Koskoff, Ken Horkavy
- HWL Tile Artists: Agata Ren Brianna Keller Carla Golembe Carlos Ferreira Haydee Ullfig Jim & Tina Ballentine Kate Alison Austin Ken Horkavy Kevin Rouse/Kevro Lisa and James Quillian Lynn Korp Sarah & Katie McGillivray Sharon Koskoff Sharon Kurlychek Sharyle Doherty Shelly Armas Susan Tenenbaum Tim Marking
- Blue Light Procession and Dance Finale: Dale Andree, choreographer, Founder, National Water Dance. Lead Dancers: Gaby Rosario, Lauren Palmieri, Deborah Kahan
- Live Music: Public Sounds Collective (http://www.publicsoundscollective.com/shows/)
- Many thanks to Neil Young for his gracious permission to use his anthem “Who’s Gonna Stand Up for the Earth?” as the project’s theme song
- Video and Photography: Sharon Koskoff, Ken Horkavy, Jan Booher, Elle Schorr
Special Thanks to the City of Delray Beach and John Morgan, Office of Sustainability
The Blue Light Procession was funded by City of Delray Beach Public Art Advisory Board
With Appreciation to Funders of HighWaterLine Delray Beach
This Project was Funded In Part by The Unitarian Universalist Fund for Social Responsibility
Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in HighWaterLine Delray Beach do not necessarily represent those of the Florida Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.