The Procession of the Species

Andrea Verschuyl, Writer

“I started to the Procession of the Species when I was super, super little,” Avanti Junior Kayta Tourtillott muses as she makes the finishing touches on a design for an elk headdress she’s planning to create, “I wouldn’t say that it’s been really significant in my life, but it’s definitely something I continue to look forward to.”

“This is the first year in forever I’ve been doing the Procession!” Gushes Allie Milburn, a Junior at Capital High School. She’s planning on wreaking some havoc as a bat, her favorite animal, “I love animals more than people so it’s right up my alley. I live all the way in Steamboat so it was difficult before to get involved but this year I’m totally committed!”

The Procession of the Species is the creative love child of Olympian Eli Sterling. Sterling holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College, where he founded the annual Rachel Carson Environmental Forum in 1991. That same year, Sterling created Earthbound Productions as a community non-profit organization committed to advancing effective environmental education through creative cultural events and community partnerships. From 1991-1995, Sterling produced over 130 community radio and television programs that engaged area-wide leaders on a broad range of environmental and social issues.

“The Procession I think has had a great impact on our community,” Tourtillott says, taking a labeled box of variegated color pencils from the shelf in the Procession of the Species workshop. It spills hued tubes all over the table, gouged with vibrant scars where past procession artists have left their mark. “It’s like all these colors,” she reflects “If every pencil here was a different person with a unique background, from all of over the world, maybe even a different species, the Procession is a way that we Olympians can celebrate our basic similarities.” She gathers the pencils in her hands and places them gently back in the box.

According to their website, “The Procession seeks to bridge the arts, the environment, and our local community. As a celebration of art, it involves citizens in a creative process affirming art’s place in the forum of public expression. As a celebration of species, it awakens public sensibilities to the issues surrounding environmental awareness and protection.” They attempt to bolster community by celebrating by engaging and connecting local government, local schools, small businesses, and civic organizations.

“It’s their nineteenth anniversary!” enthuses Milburn “The Luminary Procession is on Friday, April 26th at 9:00pm and the Procession of the Species is on the 27th at 4:30pm! The studio is open all the time and it’s across the street from the Bread Peddlar so there’s, like, major opportunity for food!”

“Everyone should do the Procession!” Proclaims Tourtillott, “It kicks butt!”