Remember when posts were for fences, rather than for Facebook? We’ve loved seeing a few museums-in-boxes pop up near HOMEGROWN headquarters. So we were thrilled when Charlyn, an Oregonian with a knack for keeping her eyes peeled for inspiration, agreed to share a 101 on building a posting post: part bulletin board, part community mailbox, part public art installation. Come to think of it, it's sort of like a Facebook post—except so much less expected and so much more FUN. Thanks for sharing, Charlyn, and please keep posting your excellent ideas!
City repair. Public art in private spaces. Little library. I’m not sure what you would call it, but we completed our posting post this afternoon, and it looks pretty fine.
For years I’ve admired the City Repair projects in Portland, where neighbors come together and paint the streets or build a playhouse or create art from recycled objects. I’ve even modeled my Honors American Literature final around the idea: art that you stumble upon while running errands and that makes your day a bit brighter. But we didn’t have anything of the sort in our own front yard—besides the gardens, of course, and one of Anne Hart’s useful art pieces, a wok turned into a birdbath. Now we have a place to post poetry or announcements or photographs for people walking by to find.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» 4-by-4 pressure-treated post, ideally recycled from an old fence, if you have one handy
» Bucket of gravel to hold the post up
» Piece of plywood, a couple of feet square (also recycled, if available)
» Wooden picture frame from Goodwill (about $1)
» Two brass hinges (we purchased them new for about $4)
» Scraps of paint
» Few nails and screws
WHAT TO DO
1. Plant the post. We put ours under the fig tree, set in from the sidewalk in front of the house. The post needed to be easily read by passers-by but not tempting to drunks walking down the street at 2 a.m. The tree provides nice nighttime cover.
2. Cut all of your wood pieces to fit. The plywood will become the anchor you attach your picture frame to, as well as the roof. I used the picture frame to determine the size of the other pieces.
3. Paint all of the pieces twice (see photo below) and let them dry overnight. I was covered with paint before I acknowledged the necessity of drying times.
4. Attach the roof pieces. We nailed a couple of small scrap pieces to the back of the anchor so that the roof nails had something to hang onto. The larger roof piece went on first so that the smaller piece was more stable.
5. Attach the frame, with the glass inside, to the plywood using small hinges.
6. Slide your chosen piece of poetry or art or an announcement inside. We used Charles Goodrich’s poem on pillbugs (see below). He’s a local poet who is also a gardener.
7. Attach your roofed display to the post using heavy-duty screws in case it needs to come down for alterations.
WHAT TO POST
The poem below is just one possibility. Use your imagination—and update your posts often!
Vagabonds, hobos, they trundle in
through a crack in the wall by the back door
and congregate under the washing machine
to drink soapy drainwater.
I'm not running a bug hotel. My home
is no flophouse for backyard dropouts.
But these folks are easy company.
They aren't evangelists
reveling all night in confessional raptures
or teenage sons of bankers
cranking stereos and snorting coke.
They aren't revolutionaries or reactionaries,
atheists, pagans or co-dependents.
They're just little bugs
who've seen the world some
and like to swap stories around the floor drain.
What I really love about this project is that it was only about $5 to make because we had so much stuff lying around. Even better, the post just made it—totally dry—through 17 inches of snow (unheard of around here)! The steeply sloped roof made all the difference.
Got a question for Charlyn? Or your own take on a community bulletin board that you’d like to share? Post your comments below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in other ways to foster public interaction, including Margiana’s Community Building 101, Ashlee’s How to Start a Food Recovery Program 101, and Anita’s How to Start a CSA (Even if You Don’t Have a Farm) 101. Or follow Lisa’s blueprints and build a communal outdoor dining table for neighborhood feasts. For more from Charlyn, don’t miss her Beeswax Candles 101 or her excellent posts (of another sort) in The Stew or follow all of her adventures on her personal blog, 21st Street Urban Homestead. You can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and paint in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.