Solstice celebration in Glenwood Children's Park

The council ring by Jens Jensen

On Sunday night from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, neighbors celebrated the solstice with a bonfire, music and poetry in Glenwood Children's Park.  The event was organized by the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association, with Peter Nause as Chair.

A glorious bonfire lit the council ring on a mound in the park.
Sparks rose to mingle with the stars, under the light of a full moon.

About half the wood was from storm-damaged trees, provided by the City of Madison Forestry Division.  Gere Tree Care helped Peter bring the wood to the council ring on a sledge.

Glenwood Childrens Park was designed by the famous landscape architect Jens Jensen, one of his last projects.  Except for the council ring, his plans were never finished, and the tiny stream was later buried in pipes.

Jensen is known for designing many parks on the west side of Chicago, and for the Garfield Park Conservatory building in Chicago.   Jensen promoted the idea of parks as place to bring people together for democratic action.  So many of them have council rings like the one at Glenwood.  His work built appreciation for natural landscapes and native plants.

Before the Europeans arrived, the park hosted a small rocky gorge with a trickle of water, lined with ferns, arched over by ancient trees.

Once looked like this?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Now it's dry and eroded

There's potential for a lovely restoration here.

Early Madisonians took blocks of sandstone from a small quarry there. Next, tracks were laid along the upstream end--now you can see the council ring from the bike trail.

Until the last few years, the park was neglected.  But it's getting more attention and use.  In recent years, it's been the location for Madison's Weed Feed (a potluck picnic) in the spring, and also a summer solstice celebration.

Neighborhood parks with community events offer a chance for neighbors to come together, get to know one another, and work together on projects.  Perhaps the Hillcrest-Upland Greenway can likewise offer a focus for the neighborhood.

Lanterns thanks to Dorie Sundquist and Percy Mather.

See all the photos here.

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