Creation Without Representation: The Green Light Project


Chris Stedman / Photography by Joshua Jenkins

Chris Stedman / Photography by Joshua Jenkins

 

By: Onyeka Obiocha

In the past year, Breakfast Lunch & Dinner has had the absolute pleasure of working with a number of amazing individuals and organizations to help create a vibrant culture in Connecticut. During this time, we learned a great deal about what it means to build ‘collective culture’ - building an environment that’s fully representative of diverse set of individuals who make up this great state. Everyone - regardless of age, race, gender or religious affiliation - should be able to see within themselves the ability to make a positive contribution to the world. 

This is why we’re so excited to work with Chris Stedman and the Yale Humanist Community (YHC) by providing creative support for the Green Light Project, a fully crowdfunded public art project that aims to bring non-religious symbol celebrating universal human values that can resonate with all people. Chris Stedman is a Fellow of Davenport College at Yale University and Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community. Living in New Haven, he would often reflect on the religious symbols that go up on the New Haven Green every winter such as the nativity scene, menorah, and holiday tree and think, "Wouldn’t it be nice to have something that everyone, no matter their beliefs, could connect with?" That question eventually pushed Stedman to do something, which culminated in the Green Light Project's inception.

Starting with an open call to artists, YHC commissioned Edwin “Ted” Salmon to craft an obelisk-shaped structure standing 15-feet high and visible from all sides of the New Haven Green. Keeping with the theme of community, when individuals gather near the sculpture, the light will change and grow warmer. Once enough people surround the sculpture, the light will begin to pulse like a heartbeat, reminding us of our shared humanity. 

An additional element that I’m particularly fond of is that within the sculpture, there will be a time capsule containing thousands of words of wisdom for humanity contributed by community members. With the overall aim to connect community across time, it will be opened in 2138 in honor of the 500th anniversary of the city of New Haven. These messages will also be sealed and stored electronically in collaboration with the New Haven Museum to ensure their survival.

Approximately 24% of the U.S. population does not identify as religious (Pew Research, 2015).  In a city recently recognized as the most accurate microcosm of these here United States, it makes sense to build a structure that represents a core part of the population. Cities like Baltimore do a phenomenal job of curating a city that looks like their citizens. Although seemingly an afterthought this goes a long in having community members feel like they are a city that they belong in and this was intentional. In 1973, "The Wall of Respect," depicting 15 renowned black Americans, was painted in the 1600 block of North Carey Street by artists hired by the Baltimore Model Cities Agency with equipment donated from the Department of Recreation and Parks.

With the emergence of the Internet, It’s been interesting to watch community members come together to share worldly experiences in a safe forum in the digital space. But too often these spaces don’t translate AFK. That’s a big reason we were eager to partner with YHC on this project: at BL&D, we know the power diverse representation has on the community and we do everything in our power to aid that. 

For more info on the Green Light Project, visit the official Indiegogo page.

 
From left to right: Onyeka Obiocha and Chris Stedman / Photography by Joshua Jenkins

From left to right: Onyeka Obiocha and Chris Stedman / Photography by Joshua Jenkins