Donation Box.. throw in a buck or two if you choose.
 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The countdown begins.

Tomorrow at noon, the 7 day countdown until the first engagement begins. I am going to be testing, retesting, and tweaking everything for the next week.

Now, the fun part. According to the National Weather Service, the high next Saturday, the 6th will be in the mid 50s. Dress warm folks! I have heard a rumor that a coffeehouse has stepped up and will be bringing hot drinks. I will disclose who this coffeehouse is once I confirm the rumor.

Hope to see you all next Saturday! Pics and things will be posted as I test everything.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEMPHIS TN
327 AM CDT THU OCT 28 2010

...FROST AND FREEZE CONDITIONS EXPECTED OVER PORTIONS
OF THE MIDSOUTH...


What a wonderful thing to wake up to in my email this morning.
First frost means that the project can go forward as scheduled
and the seeds should not germinate!

And yes, this does include Shelby County.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Server changes.

I will be changing email servers starting tonight and it may take up to 24 hours for things to move about. If you need to reach me, call the studio directly at 901-264-9457.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Memphis Flyer


Spent part of Friday doing a photo shoot for the Memphis Flyer. The photographer thinks one of the images might be the cover shot for the week of November 4th. If you want to see the cannon before the event on November 6th, come to one of the test firings or pick up the flyer next week!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Broad Avenue

I have been invited to choose a site along broad avenue to bomb as part of the "New Face on an old Broad" festival on the 20th of November.

I will also be at the artist market selling my prints. I will have tons available for immediate take home purchase and if they sell out, I can guarantee delivery in time for Christmas, complete with matting and framing if you require.

Come hang out on Broad!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Progress!



Signs of clearing at Washington Bottoms!  Our target range just got bigger!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

http://nyti.ms/9Xn3no

A story on pumpkin chuckin'. Thought it was appropriate.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Remembering this is art

While this project is a great way to engage communities, promote ecology, and raise awareness, sometime I have to stop and remind myself that this is an artistic endeavor as well. Someone today asked me how I was going to "sign" my pieces. Honestly, I have no idea. So, my readers... How should I ?


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Fall

I am sitting in the middle of the U of M campus right now. There is a maple that looks like it is on fire and the Pecan and Oaks are that goldish green that comes right before they pop. What I find distressing in the view is the large number of non native plants cultivated for their aesthetic value and not for any ecological purpose.

Why is it that we can not be proud of our own Tennessee environment and have native plants?



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Location:Veterans Ave,Memphis,United States

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Ignite Memphis Video Presentation

Our agriculture and horticulture destroy a weed just here and there and cultivate perhaps a score or so of wholesome plants, leaving the greater number to fight out a balance as they can.

H.G. Wells
The Time Machine



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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Full WREG Story

Washington Bottoms Update

Just heard from someone in the neighborhood that the city contractor doing the demolition in Washington Bottoms is now doing it properly with ecological precautions and asbestos abatement.

YAY!



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Monday, October 18, 2010

Washington Bottoms


This is the first "Hot Zone." It is the Washington Bottoms neighborhood in the northern area of Midtown Memphis.

It once was blue-collar neighborhood, filled with small bungalow homes, multi-family apartment complexes, and overall, life.

Today, this 26 acre site is a target for drug users, arsonists, and criminals. Approximately 1/3 of the land has been cleared, and slowly the remainder is being demolished.

The problem? Mid 20th century construction and current demolition techniques. These buildings are filled with the relics of these families, many of which contain toxic elements and the worst.. Asbestos.

The inhalation of asbestos can cause numerous problems, including lung cancer. It also has the long term potential to turn this possible greenspace, park, or revitalized neighborhood into a brownfield, land which will require extensive rehabilitation before it can be used.

This land needs to be cleared in an environmentally friendly manner. Not only is this a case for this parcel, but the people who live around it. When the buildings fall, a massive amount of dust is generated, with winds of just 10 mph, it can spread for blocks, polluting everything it touches. Also, after the buildings are gone, when a drought like the one we are currently experiencing occurs, the top soil turns to even more dust! Possibly polluting the area again and again for years to come.

The other problem has nothing to do with dust, in fact.. quite the opposite. When rain falls, it runs out of these areas, due to the uneven terrain Memphis is built on. This runoff carries with it the pollution and materials on the top layer of soil. If these buildings are demolished incorrectly and the asbestos is freed to the soil, the first rain to run off will be loaded with this pollutant. Considering that some of Washington Bottoms is low land (hence the bottoms name), this pollution could be trapped and concentrated, further ruining the soil and increasing the chances of a dust borne pollutant cloud forming.

What does this have to do with Bomb The Blight? Simple.. plants. They bind the soil, preventing the creation of dust. They also help to rehabilitate the soil, capturing pollution and forcing it further underground. They also help with erosion control, preventing the concentration of this pollution.

While I hope that the governmental and corporate bodies which are running this demolition listed to the citizens around this area and all over Memphis and demolish these structures in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, this project can be part of the insurance this area needs, to make it a better place overall.

After all this heavy stuff, here is something lighter. On a visit to this area a while back, I got a quick snapshot of a mother cat and her kitten on the porch of one of the derelict houses. I think it shows that life springs eternal, even in the worst parts of town.
Video from the WREG story should be coming shortly. Also, Natural Awakenings Magazine will have some info in the next issue about the project.


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Snacks!

I just received an email from the awesome folks at Popghum. They like the project and are going to be sending some of their product from Virginia down here to Memphis for us to munch on while we are Bombing on November 6th!

When you come to the event, if you like the stuff.. show some love and order some directly from them or ask Schnucks, Kroger, Whole Foods, etc to carry it!

I promise this stuff is great.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

BOOM!

I was wondering why the firing was not very loud and the air was kinda slow coming out of the barrel. I figured it out.. I wired it wrong. It was only getting 9 volts instead of 18. Now.. its loud and you know a cannon is going off!

Some Success

Tank is repaired. Now on to the valve.

Also, apparently some wadding is required for the bombs. No big problem there.

So, looks like things are back on schedule for the 6th!

Testing Post Mortem

So, the cannon did fire, but there were some kinks.

1. Pressure Leaks - two points in the cannon developed pressure leaks. One at the fill valve and the other at the end of the tank. I currently am trying to seal the tank with PVC Cement, but the valve is crap and will have to be replaced.

2. Balloons - The balloons I bought this morning are cheap and blew up in the barrel. I have some better ones on order, but they will not be here for another week.

I will do some more work on this and report back!




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:S Cleveland St,Memphis,United States

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dry run

Electricals are done, valve is functioning perfectly.

Looks like all systems are go for testing tomorrow.

Done!

The cannon is completed. So, here is my announcement. Tomorrow morning I am going to make some test bombs. They will have the biodegradable paint, but no seeds. Why? Because we are going to test this thing tomorrow at noon in the parking lot at Sears Crosstown. Its paved, so no chance of flowers growing.

So, if you want to see this thing in action, come out at noon tomorrow in the Crosstown parking lot.

Now for the disclaimer...

This is a test run. Expect problems. I cannot guarantee that the cannon will work right now, because it was just built today. Though, I do expect it to.

Nearing Completion!

90% of the cannon is assembled. Now to just let the paint dry, do final assembly, and wire the electricals. Keep watching.. there might be a test fire event coming up really, really soon!

Pics:This is the barrel and tripod assembly. On the bottom is the electronic valve that will make it push button. Paint is still drying.
Tank and pressure assembly. This will be pressurized to between 60 and 120 psi to give us the "oomph" to launch the bombs!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cannon Materials.

Twitter

On twitter now as @bombtheblight Yay.

Idea...

Want to help spread the project and pick up something pretty at the same time?

Click on the big blue Memphis Photoworks logo a bit further down the page. Go to -- "The Final Image." Pick any image from the "Flora and Fauna" or "Flowers Macro" folder.

For 20.00 -- You get a signed and numbered 11 X 14 Print. We get ongoing support to spread the project. I do have a way to process credit cards, if that helps.

It's Win Win!

Popghum


Just got some commercially produced Popped Sorghum from a company in Virginia. It is utterly delicious!

In case you want some... http://www.popghum.com/index.html

International?

Who knew people from around the world pay attention to what is going on in Memphis? According to Blogger's statistics, we have been visited from Russia, Ireland, Japan, Nepal, and The Netherlands today. Wow.

P.S. It was more than one person from these countries too!

WREG

I was just interviewed by Melissa Moon with WREG about the project! She says it should run during the 5 or 6 newscast.

Edit: Just got confirmation that it is going to be on the 6pm newscast.

Another Edit: Story will run tomorrow sometime. Apparently there was a big news story that bumped it. But, I can live with that. :)

The project makes the paper.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/oct/14/5-minute-pitches-to-ignite-memphis-draw-crowd/

More and more people are noticing this project. How awesome is this?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Want to see my presentation tonight?

Here ya go.

http://www.slideshare.net/TommyWilson/ignite-memphis-bomb-the-blight

Ignite Memphis (The Aftermath)

I just spent the most amazing three hours + of my life! Meeting so many people with so many interests and so much to say and do! I was so glad to be a part of such a passionate group and I hope my little project to beautify Memphis expands because of it!

As I said so many times tonight, this is not about me. It is about the project and the city. Let's grow this!

Seeds are in!


In the mail today...

Approved (with a condition)

We will be able to bomb the Washington Bottoms area on the 6th as planned. However, we must respect the fence around the area and launch from the street area. If you plan on coming, please do not block the street!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sorghum

This is traditional Southern Sorghum. For the project, I have ordered 5 lbs of the seed, enough to cover 10,000 acres. I know its overkill, but this stuff is awesome. While this grass grows all over the world, it was first identified by African slaves in the South because it was eaten in their native land. It can be treated just like wheat, except with no gluten and a faintly sweet taste.

It can also be made into popcorn! Well, Popsorgum I suppose.

I will be including this in all of the balloons. It promotes bees with its blooms, birds, squirrels, and even deer with its grain, prevents erosion and best of all is completely edible by humans!

So, next fall.. you will hopefully see me in the engagement zones picking this wonderful grain.. come join in!

Ignite Memphis...

Presentation is done! I cannot wait to give my spiel and here everyone else's ideas on bettering Memphis!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting Started


After trips to three different stores, countless people saying " You're doing what???!!?, and more money than I care to admit, I finally have all the materials for the cannon.

I will be working on it this week, and will attempt to process blog it.  I hope

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another chance to beat the drum!

Just got a call from Eric Matthews with Ignite Memphis. I have been asked to present my idea and the project in a 5 minute presentation during their event on Tuesday. It is kind of a speed presentation, 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. So, guess what I am working on this weekend. :)

If you would like to attend follow this link:

Ignite Memphis

Edit: I also have two tickets for the event. If anyone is interested, please email me!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Attention U of M Students

An article should run tomorrow in the Daily Helmsman with not only information about my project, but also about MemFeast in general. Pick it up and find out how you can be the next grant recipient!

Bombs Away!

So, I think I have a way to make the cannon electric fire. How fun will it be to have a huge red button to push!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

About Coneflowers.

The scientific name for the two varieties of coneflowers I listed earlier for planting are:

Echinacea Purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
and
Rudbeckia amplexicaulis (Clasping Coneflower)

Coneflowers actually cover four families of plants. The one I am planting the most of is the Purple, which as you can see is a member of the Echinacea family. Yes, it is that same herb many people buy to fight colds and infections. The roots and the leaves of this plant are useful for this purpose! So, next autumn.. visit some of the bombing sites and collect some. It is best to collect them after the heads have gone to seed.

There is also a special Coneflower which would be perfect for this project. Echinacea tennesseensis (Tennessee Coneflower) is a plant which is endemic only to certain areas of the state. However, from my reading, it should work in the area because of Urban empty land's similarity to prairie soil (Dry, grassbeds, etc.) The problem is, the seeds are quite pricey. So, if anyone is interested in sponsoring a bombing of these seeds to help this endangered plant, please contact me!

By the way, 100.00 will buy over 20,000 of these seeds. Let's save a native endangered plant!

211,000 Seeds!

First round of seeds have been ordered. Over 211,000!
If just 10% of this order grows.. Memphis will have more than 20,000 new flowers come next spring!

Here is the lineup for the first round.




The famous (and beautiful) Black Eyed Susan.
78,000 Seeds

A perennial favorite for many gardeners. Black Eyed Susan are so easy to grow! They are drought tolerant and need very little care, although they do prefer full sun. These perennial flowering plants produce bright yellow petal flowers that bloom all summer, and feature a dark black domed centerpiece. This plant grows up to 3’ tall, making it perfect for cut flower arrangements to take indoors. Black Eyed Susan also makes an excellent backdrop floral choice because the bright colors will become an excellent frame for your smaller garden plants.As a strong perennial, you can be sure that once you plant Black Eyed Susan in your garden or wildflower meadow, it will faithfully reappear year after year, lighting up your garden with color and interest.


Pink Catchfly

99,000 seeds.

The large rose pink flowers grow in clusters around the thin stem. Catchfly will thrive in all types of soil. Catchfly was named for the sticky sap that attracts small insects that attempt to steal the nectar and become trapped.





Clasping Coneflowers
9400 Seeds

Resembling a drooping sunflower, the Clasping Coneflower is an annual flowering plant that features large drooping yellow petals and huge black center cones. Clasping Coneflower will thrive in any type of soil and prefers a full sun garden location. This hardy annual grows to a maximum height of 2’, is very easy to grow and it will reseed itself.



Plains Coreopsis
20,000 Seeds

An annual with a bright and sunny personality and loaded with character. If you need a pop of color in your garden, Plains Coreopsis may be the answer! This plant grows very tall, generally 2’ to 3’ and attracts birds, bees and butterflies. Plains Coreopsis blooms in May and will stay with you well into September. Bright red and yellow blooms that love full sun and will tolerate varying soil conditions.


Purple Coneflower Seeds
4800 Seeds

With large purple flowers that bow down to spectacular reddish orange cone centers, Purple Coneflower is a hardy perennial that will be a joy in your garden. This perennial flowering plant likes full sun or partial shade and is drought tolerant. Germination tested and packaged for current year.
A robust plant, Purple Coneflowers offer stunning flowers set atop elongated stalks. The harmony of the soft purple petals and the fiery red centers is something to behold.

If you have a favorite wildflower or just a suggestion, email me! I will do my best to include it as we move forward.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Update



As you can see by scrolling down the page, we are now on Facebook as well. Go like us! Do it NOW!

I was thinking today about the irony of using a cannon for this purpose. We always see cannons as militaristic. I like to think of my project as a Weapon of Mass Beautification!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Plans.. and more plans..

So, the plans for the cannon are almost done. If everything goes well, the cannon should be able to launch a seed bomb 700+ feet at 125 psi. I know that is a bit of overkill, but... its nice to know that long range capability is there.

Also, it should be able to launch a volley of seed bombs, as opposed to one at a time. Also, not necessary.. but kinda fun.

Shameless Promotion

The graphic in the banner sucks. I know this, it's alright to agree. So.. anyone want to design a new one? If so, send me your ideas at blight@memphisphotoworks.com. Also, looking for someone who does screenprinting who might be willing to print us up some "bomb squad" t-shirts.

Thanks!

The (community) engagement begins now.

This morning, I was invited by Cedar Nordbye, coordinator of the foundations classes at the University of Memphis to present my project to his class. I hope this turns into more chances to beat the ecological art drum throughout. He also suggested picking a spot near the U of M to actuate the project and spread some color. To that end, anyone have a suggestion of a spot on the campus that needs to be bombed?

Also, he is trying to get the campus newspaper, The Helmsman, to do a story. I will post that if/when it happens!

Sort of an update..

I was just watching some videos online about gardening and sowing seeds. Apparently it is suggested that when you sow seeds, to throw out some bird seed as well, Black Oil Sunflower is preferred. That is to prevent those hungry birds this winter from eating the wildflower seeds. So, I am going to order some and place in the cannon with the bomb, at least for the first few salvos. If anything, it will make it look more like a cannon going off!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I made an error.

I posted the email address "blight@memphisphotoworks.com" and then forgot to log into Google apps and actually create the address. If anyone emailed to that address today and it bounced back, try it again. I know it is unlikely, but better safe than sorry.

The Project is GO!

Prepare for battle...

Last night, I was privileged to receive a grant from the Crosstown Arts and their MemFEAST event! The $1500.00 grant will be used to construct the first cannon, dubbed B-52 for now. Also, the grant will allow for the manufacture of the first round of ammo. It is planned that within 30 days, we will be ready for our first engagement. Stay tuned for images of the construction and details of our planned engagements!

What is the project?

The project is simple. Fight blight in Memphis and hopefully beyond! Here is the plan. An air cannon will be constructed. In this cannon will be loaded seed "bombs" containing plant seeds, fertilizer, organic matter, and pigment. The bombs will be "cased" by a simple latex balloon, which biodegrades at the same rate as an oak leaf. This cannon will be taken to areas of town which have unused, blighted, and polluted land.

When the cannon is used, the pigmented organic payload will create an abstract painting on the ground, which will be mimicked the following spring by native wildflowers, ground cover, and plants provide food and habitat for wildlife.

Here is where the community engagement part kicks in. By partnering with community groups, civic organizations and elements of government, we will schedule each "engagement" (That sounds better than bombing, don't you think?) as a community event. Groups will be invited to distribute literature, speak, and generally promote urban horticulture and community beautification. It is the hope of the project that this will spark communities to beautify their neighborhoods, grow gardens, and strive for a more sustainable lifestyle.