Pulling Together: Legends of Willimantic - Part 1
Pulling Together Legends of Willimantic - Part 2
Pulling Together Legends of Willimantic - Part 3
Pulling Together Legends of Willimantic - Part 4
This collaborative durational public performance project started in 2006 in response to the negative national press directed towards Willimantic, CT. Considering this publicity a form of legend the collaborators set out to tell their own legends and tall tales about Willimantic. In the process, over one hundred like-minded citizens pulled together to build a wooden boat as a symbol of Willimantic’s strengths as a vital community. In June of 2008, the citizen shipwrights took the boat on a tour of the Connecticut River Valley to spread the lore of Willimantic’s past and present.
The boat departed Willimantic filled with its stories and dreams and traveled south from Hartford, on the Connecticut River to East Haddam. The boat projected the image and imagination of Willimantic that we discovered through building together. All dreamers, storytellers, and boat people were invited to join the flotilla for the journey.
In the final phase of the Pulling Together project, the boat was installed as a sculpture at I-Park in 2013. Artists Colin McMullan, James Holland, Johnnie Walker, and I worked to brand a text into the sides of the boat, explaining the adventures we’d had with it. Then, we cut away the bottom of the boat, and planted a white pine inside it, to symbolically replace the tree that had been cut and milled for the planking.
Finally, we situated the boat within a stone field and near a fire to make the site inviting as a place to sit and share stories. An invitation to use the space for storytelling was also branded into the side of the boat. The site has been used by residents and visitors as the tree matures and the boat gradually decays back into the landscape.