Prairie Futures is a public artwork and agriculture landscape installation which aims to cultivate cross-disciplinary approaches to climate compassion through art practices and social connections in the Colorado High Plains.
Inspired by farmhouse architecture and crop circle formations the 2-acre Prairie Futures site is a social-ecological garden designed for the diversification of regional mono-agricultural plant usage. In association with this experimental land plot, a multi-use outdoor pavilion has been built to reinforce learning across rural areas and connect urban populations to rural realities.
Influenced by regenerative-ag practices, Prairie Futures supports a creative response and a rehabilitative approach to food and farming systems that invests in and replenishes the vitality of our rural community.
In this time of unparalleled urban rural polarization, the Prairie Futures site behaves as an activity-rich testing ground for living with arts and culture at its core. Furthermore, we hope to open our doors to healing and transformation, and reflect optimism for a more inclusive future for rural towns in our state.
- ABOUT THE SITE
Between the liquor store and the old church is the Benton family homestead, the site of Prairie Futures. Matriarch Mabel Bond Benton came to eastern Colorado around 1915 from Esbon, Kansas, and taught in one room school houses as the sole teacher for children first through twelfth grades in the Idalia and Joes area. Bob (Robert) Benton ended up in Joes after WWI pursuing a mail carrier job. They met, were married in 1921 and settled in Joes permanently in 1926.
Joes Colorado (pop. 80) was once a popular first stop for travelers coming to Colorado along Highway 36 but as the interstate was built across the US, recreational travel along small highways was all but abandoned. Since 2016, cultural engagement has flourished in Joes and its citizens have worked to broaden arts and cultural activities, increasing opportunities for our youth to grow into future rural community leaders.
The Prairie Futures site is a vivid representation of rural urban interconnected futures and can pave a path forward for our lives in this ever evolving landscape.
The next picture is from Cope, Colorado which is just west of Joes. It’s this weird little store selling all sorts of Bison themed stuff. It’s run a hunched over man ( He has Parkinson’s I’m sure).
And finally this picture was seen in Burlington, Colorado - sort of imagine if you will 100 years ago if you were riding your ‘mustang’ cross country you would also have your bed roll strapped on the back. This is the same idea.