“The Holey Land” is an allegory about the powerful connection between people and the place they call home. In this tale, the Peninsula People and the magic in their land are threatened when a stranger shows up with big ideas for ‘improving’ their community. As storybook images scroll by, the peninsula gets devoured by buildings and factories, and the Peninsula People are left to ponder the fate of their land. The story ends with a surprising twist, and a hopeful message about a community’s ability to determine their own future.
Told using a crankie, or wooden box that contains a long scroll of paper with illustrations. the story is inspired by the environmental history of the Fairfield Peninsula, near Curtis Bay in south Baltimore. Once fertile land that supplied produce to the booming metropolis of Baltimore, and later home to company towns and tight knit communities, the peninsula was transformed by opportunistic development, and devoured by heavy industry in the 20th century.
The 15-minute story is appropriate for all ages.
by Valeska Populoh in collaboration with Free Your Voice and an original score by ellen cherry
This project was conceived in 2015, in the context of a grassrootscampaign to oppose the construction of the nation’s largest trash-burning incinerator in a community in south Baltimore. The Holey Land was developed as a way to engage communities in conversations about this issue and proactively develop positive alternatives for energy production and job creation in the economically depressed area. In collaboration with community organizers from Free Your Voice, a youth-chapter of the human rights organization United Workers, we toured through Baltimore, performing at community centers, festivals, schools, libraries, and conferences. The permit for the construction of the incinerator was revoked by the Department of the Environment in June of 2016, marking a huge victory for the campaign and for community self-determination.