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An Unforgetable Event about Arts, Gardening, Birds and Community in Cortland, NY

2012 September 26
by Marta del Campo

Cortland is a city in the middle of New York State

In mid August, a wonderful community event took place in Cortland NY. Have you ever heard of the city of Cortland in New York State? It is possible that you have not because it is a little, quiet city in the middle of the state, away from all the major urban centers.  However, Cortland really shone in mid August, thanks to an awesome event organized by JM Murray, and funded in part by the Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grant program.

Beautiful bird mobiles made of folded or cut paper by participants

Over 120 people from Cortland and towns nearby visited the JM Murray building to participate in their successful and fun “Bird Celebration” event. Wonderful activities were prepared with dedication and care by the participants in the OPTIONS JM Murray Day Habilitation program in Cortland, NY. The activities combined the arts, gardening, community work and the observation of local wild birds. The participants in the Options JM Murray program were organized in twelve teams focused on the preparation of different activities for the event. Teams worked on handcrafts such as mobiles of beautiful birds, including hummingbirds and Blue Birds, Northern Cardinals, and American Robins made of folded or cut paper. The mobiles were hanging in hallways, rooms and in every corner of the building you could imagine. They were gorgeous!

Proud participants and staff next to one of the beautiful interactive posters at the JM Murray event

Other teams worked on interactive posters and games for the visitors to have a lot of fun while walking and going from room to room or table to table. The posters taught visitors about birds and bird identification and how to help birds by planting certain kinds of plants and by having access to water in bird baths, and much more. Other groups worked on detailed drawings and collages of birds of vibrant colors. Other teams prepared tables to showcase potted plants to help wild birds. Some cooked delicious original dishes dedicated to birds such as Bird Nest cookies, Rice Krispie Bird cut-outs and treats, Bird Jello cut-outs, Bird Nest pie, Dirt and Worms cake, and more. All of these fun and delicious dishes were enjoyed by visitors as well as the cooks!

Impressive photo taken by one of the participants and showcased at the photo gallery room

Other teams were dedicated to the audio and visual arts. They had a spot for siting and watching a slide show about the 16 Celebrate Urban Birds’ focal species. Another team prepared a room in which the songs of many local birds and our focal bird species were played recurrently. It was so nice and relaxing to walk into this room! In addition, there was a gallery room in which photos taken and posted by the participants in the program were exhibited. They were so beautiful! Many of them captured the beauty of the surrounding beauty of Central New York.

Participants and staff showing their garden. Mural can be seen on the back. Photo by Bob Ellis

The arts “overflowed” the tables, walls, ceiling, and all the corners of the building. However, not all the art was kept indoors!  In the backyard we found an impressive and inspiring surprise: a stunning mural on one of the walls of the building showing trees, flowers, insects and our focal species, which can be seen around Cortland, NY. It was exciting, and these were only the art activities!

Participants also grew lush gardens in the backyard. They planted sunflowers, flowering plants in full bloom at the event, and many veggies, not only for the birds, but also for themselves to cook and enjoy in salads and desserts, too. Delicious!

Next to the mural and garden, they also installed a tent with large comfortable chairs, where participants and staff in the program as well as visitors to the event could do their 10-minute bird watching activity for Celebrate Urban Birds. How proud they were to show and share their bird sightings as they collected valuable data for our citizen science project. The event was really awesome! They were inspired to participate with us and make this event a complete success for their local community and for the birds! How about you? When are you going to get started? Everyone is welcome!

The beautiful mural and garden at JM Murray backyard

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