Installation begins on the Buckthorn Menace project

Suzie_Nakasianjim-proctor I was walking in the upper Arb this afternoon, taking in the spectacular fall colors, when I luckily stumbled upon EQC co-chair Suzie Nakasian, her daughter, and Juliane Shibata, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Carleton, lending a hand to Minneapolis artist Jim Proctor who was beginning installation of his Buckthorn Menace art project.

Suzie twisted my arm, took away my camera, and made me help Jim.  See the album or this slideshow, followed by the email I got from Suzie upon returning home with details on the need for volunteers tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday at both Carleton and St. Olaf locations. The project is a bit behind schedule because of the recent rains limiting the number of volunteers.

Dear Griff:

It was fun to meet you out on the buckthorn fields this afternoon! This is our last week of the project – any help you can provide (on the blog site or radio program or other) to encourage folks to come out to volunteer would be greatly appreciated. The work really is fun – most people who come out end up staying on longer than they intended…even when its pouring rain!

I have taken the liberty of writing up a draft of a blurb (below) that you are welcome to tweek and edit to fit your blog. It includes links to the project web sites and a link to the KSPT-TV news coverage of this project earlier this week.

Thanks again for your interest in this project!


Suzie Nakasian, Co-Chair

Northfield EQC 

The Buckthorn Menace is now entering its final week!

This environmental art installation is the center of a wider community education initiative that aims to raise public awareness about the problems caused to Northfield’s natural lands by the invasive plant species buckthorn, and to engage the public in addressing these problems in a very creative and lasting way.

To date over one hundred campus and community volunteers have already participated in this project, helping to clear buckthorn out of the project’s two installation sites – one in the grassy slope just to the south of St. Olaf’s new Science Center, and the other on the wooded hillside just inside Carleton’s “Upper” Arboretum at the east end of East Second Street.

Volunteers are now needed to continue clearing buckthorn and, working under the direction of Minneapolis artist Jim Proctor, to transform the collected buckthorn roots and branches into large scale sculptures.

Once completed the whimsical sculptures (they resemble gargantuan dandelions in full seed) will stand on site for a full year to allow public viewing across the four seasons. They will be dismantled next October, and the restoration of the landscapes completed with the planting of indigenous trees and shrubs.

Don’t miss this chance to participate in this unique and informative project!  Come enjoy some vigorous outdoor work while you learn from the land, help to restore a local landscape, and create some large scale outdoor art!  The tasks are easy, satisfying and fun! Family participation encouraged -Come dressed for outdoor work (long sleeved pants and sleeves are recommended). Bring garden gloves and clippers if you have them. No prior experience with art or buckthorn required!   All necessary training will be provided!

Volunteers will be working on both sites this Saturday, October 6, and on additional days through October 13 (see schedule below for dates/hours). Artist Jim Proctor and local Master Gardeners and Student Naturalists will be on site during these hours to get you started. Any amount of time you can volunteer will be appreciated! 

Directions to both sites are provided below:

Work on the Carleton site are (walk ins welcome):

Thurs. Oct 4. 12:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Fri.,    Oct. 5 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Sat.,   Oct. 6 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Monday, Thursday and Friday, October. 8,11, and 12: from 12:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Opening Celebration: Saturday, October 13, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. (outdoors on installation site) Everyone Welcome!

Directions: enter the “Upper Arb” at the east end of Second Street East, and follow the paved pedestrian path across the bridge and uphill. The installation site will be to the left at the top of the hill. (follow yellow signs to the site). Parking available on Second Street East.

For more information on this project at Carleton, consult:

or email,

Work on the St. Olaf site (walk-ins welcome): 

Fri.,   Oct. 5  12:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Sat.,  Oct. 6    2:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Tue.  Oct. 9  12:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 10 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Opening Celebration: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. (on the installation site)  Everyone Welcome!

Directions: Enter St. Olaf from the west end of St.Olaf Avenue; Take an immediate left on the new ring road that winds uphill and in front of “Old Main”. Follow this road around the hill to the right; the installation site will be on your left, just off the paved pedestrian path that leads down from “Old Main” to West 2nd Street. Parking is available further down the same road in the new Science Center parking lot.

For more information about this project at Stolaf, go to, email

To see the clip from KSTP-TV News coverage of The Buckthorn Menace, go to

This project is co-sponsored by Carleton College and St. Olaf College in association with the Environmental Quality Commission of the City of Northfield.


  1. Ross Currier said:

    Griff –

    So when it’s time to do the radio show, you’re Mr. Nowhere-man, but when it’s about romping in the woods with women, you’re Johnny-on-the-Spot, eh?

    – Ross

    October 5, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Yep, romping in the woods with women trumps recording with you any day, Ross. Say, that reminds, me… it’s a new sex al fresco season, isn’t it?

    October 9, 2007
  3. Ross Currier said:

    Griff –

    If this new season is for sex al fresco…

    …a Carhartt cap, a Woolrich jacket and Sorel boots must be lingerie.

    – Ross

    October 9, 2007
  4. Ross Currier said:

    Okeh, Griff’s and my jokes shouldn’t distract from what is really a great College – Community Collaboration:

    Contact: Carleton College
    Office of Media Relations
    (507) 646-4184
    Written by Marina Komarovsky ‘08

    October 9, 2007

    For immediate release

    The Buckthorn Menace Nears Completion at Carleton College; Community
    Invited to Celebrate Opening

    Northfield, Minn.—The Buckthorn Menace, a large-scale sculptural
    installation created by Northfield residents and students under the
    direction of Minneapolis artist Jim Proctor, will open at Carleton
    College on Saturday, October 13. The community celebration, scheduled
    from 3 to 5 p.m., will take place at the installation site in the
    Cowling Arboretum—the “upper arb,” located off the East Second Street
    entrance to the arboretum. This special event is free and open to the

    The installation is the final stage of this unique project, combining
    volunteerism, education, and creative expression. Since mid-September,
    participants have been pulling buckthorn weeds at both Carleton and St.
    Olaf colleges, then using the wood and roots of this destructive plant
    species to construct sculptures resembling giant dandelions in full
    seed, a visual choice representing the rampant dispersal of the invasive
    buckthorn shrub. “Dandelions are not a huge environmental problem, but
    buckthorn is,” Proctor explains. “However, buckthorn is invisible to
    most people. I want to create a connection with something that is familiar.”

    True works of public art, the sculptures simultaneously serve to educate
    people about the environmental problem of buckthorn and to propose
    community collaboration as a solution. The installation will stand for
    one full year so that it can be viewed during all four seasons,
    intrinsically shaped by nature as it contributes to its preservation.

    An Ohio native, Jim Proctor earned a studio art degree from St. Olaf
    College in 1992. His mixed media use of plant material in nature
    paintings eventually led to a transition to three-dimensional sculptures
    that are constructed fully from plants. Much of his current work
    consists of miniature sculptures in which he combines different species
    of plants to create a visual representation with social or environmental
    symbolism. Having previously erected Buckthorn Menace installations in
    surrounding locations through a FORECAST Public Artworks grant, he has
    now brought the project and the message to Northfield.

    The Carleton installation site is located in the “Stork Forest” area of
    the “upper arb”: follow the paved path at the end of East Second Street
    (near Bell Field) across the bridge and uphill; the site is on the top
    of the hill as you round the bend in the direction of the Recreation
    Center. For more information, visit the Buckthorn Menace website at

    The Buckthorn Menace project is co-sponsored by Carleton College and St.
    Olaf College, in association with the Environmental Quality Commission
    of Northfield.

    # # # #

    October 9, 2007

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