Pittsboro in 30 Years – A Blog by Pepperfest Poster Artist, Stayce Leanza

I felt uniquely suited to take on this year’s Pepper Festival theme, as striving for Utopia is part of my daily life as a member of an intentional community. My life at Blue Heron Farm is one big experiment in the creation and development of co-operative and sustainable ways of living together. 

So, when the idea was presented to me for the poster, thus: “we want to see an image of Pittsboro how we’d like it to be in 30 years”, I was on top of it. Of course, the people at Abundance are no strangers to the concept either. So, I took their suggestions: “plants everywhere, peppers everywhere, rooftop gardens, solar panels, & plenty of bicycles” …and ran with it.

A close look at the poster will reveal some of my ideas for Pittsboro in 2049:

  • A vibrant, diverse community, with people from around the world, being with each other in lots of different joyful ways – including men caring for children. Can you find two examples?
  • Public art by local artists – There are 4 examples of could-be art by real local artists in the poster. Can you find them?
  • Some ideas were rather tech-y. (Skip over this part if tech-nerdism isn’t your thing.)
            • Among the wind turbines, you may find the double helix shaped one. They are smaller, collect less wind, but I’m guessing there’s way less chance of birds colliding with them and crashing to their death. 
            • You can see the solar panels; some of them follow a new idea of angling their placement to take advantage of the sun’s movement across the sky. Can you find some curved ones?
            • Can you find the Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station? Or the solar electric light rail car?
            • I couldn’t find any examples of real life rooftop rainwater collectors, so I had to make them up. Later, I found out that similar things already exist in other parts of the world!
            • My absolute fave tech item: the Elf – solar electric covered bicycles, made locally in Durham by Organic Motors, & sold far and wide!
            • There’s one final tech item I didn’t mention. Can you find it? You get brownie points (or greenie points?) if you know what it is. Hint: it’s made by a high-profile electric vehicle company.
            • One cool thing I discovered while researching was “rain gardens”. Water loving plants are planted in low lying areas to soak up extra rainwater runoff. R & D is happening here at NC State. Can you find some in the picture?
            • But – my personal favorite idea was the Health Patrol. Imagine this for a moment: what if our first line of “community defense” / “community protection” was, instead of police, a health patrol that went around the neighborhoods seeing if everyone was OK? For example: 
              • instead of arresting an ill-behaving drunk person, they would escort them to a recovery center to dry out and get help. 
              • Mischievous teens stirring up trouble? Bring them to the Community Service Office, where they’d be given constructive and challenging jobs to do to help  their neighbors in need. 
              • Instead of shooting people with dark skin, they’d say “Hello, how are you doing?” And perhaps even offer them a handshake or a drink of water. [I don’t mean to suggest that this kind of thing happens here in Chatham County; I’m seeing this as a national effort, for a national issue.]
              • Instead of tearing young children away from their parents who are in need of help, they would escort the family to a sanctuary, where they would be protected. [Here, too, I’m thinking of a national effort, and want to note that, historically, our humble Chatham County has bravely stood up to ICE’s efforts to dehumanize local immigrants among us.]
            • Aside from creating a safer, kinder place, it would enable the police focus on the real crimes.

A few years ago, these may have seemed like radical concepts to people in the main stream culture. But these days, I think we could easily set up something like this within thirty years. What do you think?

Stacye Leanza juggles art, biz, teaching, and art coaching with being a soul-seeking “cultchah junkie”. www.leanza-art.com