The Washington Monument seems dwarfed by the two 14-foot-tall green chairs on its front lawn. And with the 55 smaller chairs ringing their parents, the Green Chair Project’s monument steals the show from the District’s namesake obelisk. Last week, tourists took time out from monumental worship and cursing crying kids to sit a spell. There’s something magnetic about the apple-green Adirondack chairs.
The chairs came to D.C. last week from the Twin Cities of Minnesota as part of the Green Chair Project. When Joel Sisson had a similar chair stolen from his back yard six years ago, he fought back constructively, so to speak. Sisson recruited 14 teens from the neighborhood to help him build 90 green Adirondack chairs. The chairs were then distributed throughout the community, two chairs for every house for two blocks. This was Sisson’s plan to get the people of the neighborhood out of their houses and talking. It worked. The Green Chair Project was born.
Since that Sunday morning, over 2,500 of the lawn chairs have been made. Though Sisson initially had a hard time getting funding for the project, it’s now run by Forecast, a nonprofit public arts group based in St. Paul. The Green Chair Project left its neighborhood in search of a bigger profile for the big chairs. “Someone said you can’t be a poet in your own country,” says Jack Becker, project director. “This trip will be a success if a picture of us here gets published at home.”
Becker continues, “Joel wanted to put a chair by the White House. I thought, no way…but it happened, with a lot of magic.”
The Green Chair Project crew arranged and built the display at the Washington Monument with the help of a group of kids from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. One of the two giant chairs will be given to the school in appreciation of their efforts. Becker says he hopes to sell the other to help pay for the trip to D.C. The 55 smaller chairs will be given to each of the 50 states and 5 U.S. territories, including the District, thank you.