Cathy Cloutier’s three children remember the tragedy of 9/11 by how they acted out the attack with household objects.
She hopes that plants might create similar memories for children watching the nation – and the world – changed by the death of George Floyd.
“Hopefully, when the plants come back every year, they’ll remember this time,” she said. “A reminder that this is an America for everyone.”
Cloutier, a Republican state senator representing Brandywine Hundred, is leading a new effort to give out free perennials, piloted on Saturday for Brandywine School District students, with signups required at Eventbrite.
She hopes that the social justice project can expand beyond the 200 plants arranged for the socially distanced giveaway at Springer Middle School on Shipley Road.
The campaign is supported by Tracy Todd Woodson, Springer’s principal; Jason Heller, a district school board member and president of the Springer Family Association; Greer Firestone, founder of heartinthegame.org; and Ruth Linton, owner of Highland Orchards.
“Floyd’s death will be considered a perennial event, a lasting change for racial justice,” the group wrote in announcing the event. “We offer to your child(ren) their own FREE perennial plant to nurture, to grow and to remind him or her that we are all equal.”
Linton was eager to get involved when she was approached by Cloutier, who lives across Foulk Road from the family business, a Brandywine Hundred landmark for decades.
Many of its customers have said they’re activists, she said. “It’s a positive thing all around.”
Linton got a supplier to cut the cost of the plants, which she’s donating. There are a dozen varieties, mostly natives and good attractors for pollinators, such as day lilies, yarrow and black-eyed Susans.
“We like plants, and plants are good for people,” she said. “Getting their hands in the dirt makes them better people.”
Cloutier couldn’t wait.
She and her son Tommy were out the other day transplanting irises and sharing them with neighbors.
She looks forward to thinking of these flowers as symbols – and of course posting photos on Facebook – of how she was thinking about racial issues.