Sally’s Alley takes wing


~by Denise O’Brien Van

Sally’s Alley, a peaceful strip of plantings, poetry and portraits of birds leading south from the Courthouse Square in the middle of the 100 E. Lincoln Way block, was officially opened  Saturday morning.

About 125 people flocked to the site to watch the family of the late Sally White, author of Sally’s Backyard Birds, cut a red ribbon to open the tranquil location. Sally’s family is pictured, with her husband Paul at the left.

Six fledgling Prairie Blue Creative Arts dance students opened the ceremony with their rendition of “Rockin’ Robin,”performed on the Bell Tower Plaza, north across Lincoln Way from the alley.

Alan Robinson, director the Jefferson Matters: Main Street program, told the crowd that the alley is a tribute to “Sally White’s beautiful story and photos and her tender story.”

White began photographing birds gathering at her backyard feeders near Churdan when she was ill and depressed. The work lifted her spirits, and the book, filled with enchanting color photographs, was published in 2011. White died at age 73 in October 2012.

A project of the Jefferson Matters Tower View Team, Sally’s Alley “is creative placemaking at its best,” said Robinson.

“The community rallied around this alley” he added, naming several groups and individuals who contributed to the $12,000 project. Funding included a $5,000 Keep Iowa Beautiful Grant.

The passageway, gated with wrought iron at the north and south, includes perennial plantings placed by Jefferson’s Master Gardeners; nine large photographs of White’s bird portraits on the Lincoln Building on the alley’s east side; a little free library; a bench; and glass-encased verse by local poets.

Local conservationist Matt Wetrich gave an informative presentation about the birds in our backyards after the formal dedication.

Jefferson poet Barb Nash read one of her poems that was particularly appropriate for the avian-themed occasion: Click here for ‘Perspective’

Conservationist Matt Wetrich gave a presentation about the birds in our backyards following the formal dedication.


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