Katie Ries, Local Artist and Creator of the Urban Land Scouts

Tell me about the Urban Land Scouts.

The Urban Land Scouts are a new group to help modern urban people become better stewards of the land and community where they live. A steward is someone charged with looking after an estate or handling the provisions for a group. The Urban Land Scouts consider themselves stewards of the city in which they live and try to look after it with a mind towards its sustained health.

Here's our pledge:

I will to the best of my ability
be a good steward of the urban land where I live
by cultivating native and edible plants; promoting species diversity;
sharing the fruits of my labor and knowledge;
and propagating Urban Land Scouting in barren areas.

What can you tell me about the iconography about the patches?

Their are 10 different levels through which one will passes on the way to becoming a Master Urban Land Scout. Each of those levels represents a core value of the ULS. For example, at Level One the scout is encouraged to go out and observe the natural world because, "The Urban Land Scout looks at the land daily; he is observant of and attentive to it." Each of the icons on the patches alludes to these actions and values.

How did you go about making the patches?

The patches were produced by Stadri Emblems in Woodstock, N.Y.  I made drawings by hand, scanned those into my computer, cleaned them up and added color digitally. I emailed my images to Stadri and an artist there translated my drawings into files compatible with their embroidery machines.

How can someone join the Urban Land Scouts?

Come to the Downtown Gallery from April 15th-30th and sign up. We'll have all of the levels on display as well as plants and printed ephemera to take home and get you started. Stanley's Greenhouse and Nursery and The Tomato Head are both sponsoring the project and making it possible for us to give away a lot of plants and objects. There is a small $10 fee to join ($5 for students) and this helps cover the cost of the patches.  We don't want anyone  to be deterred by cost, so there are work-trade options as well. Everyone is welcome at the Urban Land Scouts.