The Site Installation Proposal

The following is a proposal for the Walnut Cove Town Council to be installed on the property behind the Walnut Cove Public Library.


the main focus of The Lilies Project

The purpose of this project is to highlight the coal ash encapsulation research of NC A&T State University and transform coal ash into a positive benefit for the community. After a series of community build meetings and asking people at community outreach events, we propose the following components to be installed at the library.


The Main Components of the Installation Site


A wildflower bank

The trees behind the Walnut Cove Public Library were removed in 2017. With the historic rains of 2018, the bank began to wash away, resulting in mud flowing down into the parking lot. We began meeting with Bryan Hartman, Agricultural Extension Agent from the Stokes County Extension Office to determine the best plan to create a wildflower bank. It is to be a model for growing a mix of flowers and edibles in yards and to help encourage butterfly and bee populations. We will be guided by Stokes County Master Gardners throughout the planting process.

tree grove

Ornamental and fruit trees will line the perimeter of the block. Crepe myrtles along 5th Street is our first phase of our installation. Trees will be placed in honor of community members.



Over the past year, people have consistently asked for more places to walk. Rev. Gregory Hairston requested exercise opportunities for the aging population. Danielle Bailey-Lash practices a daily meditation. All of these requests together evolved into a notion of a concrete labyrinth designed by Chuck Hunner, who is out of Asheville.

The concrete mix will include local coal ash and be poured by a local business. The Granitite application will be applied to the concrete over a ten-day period, leaving a long-lasting gathering space for decades to come. It will stand on the corner of 5th Streets and Windmill with easy access to both the assisted living facility and the rest home.

The coal ash Art


Working with NC State A&T University, we will install multiple posts as tall columns along the edge of the labyrinth and down into the hill of the wildflower bank. They will be painted in bright colors and demonstrate a new technology available across fields. The specific layout has not been determined yet. The design will reflect the sheet music or musical vibration of the song, “Amen,” which was composed by Jester Hairston.


Community Garden Beds

Throughout our years of coal ash advocacy, many people have longed for the ability to eat from the fruits and vegetables of their yards. Tracey Brown Edwards frequently speaks about eating the fruits picked from the trees. Andree Davis laments that her trees no longer bear fruit. We will set up multiple raised beds that the community can use to grow fruits and vegetables. It also provides community members a chance to grow fruit whose farms are no longer maintained. Johnny Hairston spoke of raising food on his grandfather’s farm, which no longer exists.

Covered outdoor seating

We will have benches and covered swings for people to sit and relax around the labyrinth space. This will be a place for neighbors to gather. The labyrinth is also an open platform for people to have exercise classes, performances and dancing.

weaving bench with lamp wire


As part of the community events this summer, we will create a long woven piece out of lamp wire. It can be used as a temporary bench or play structure anywhere on the property. The loom is available for additional projects that people are inspired to create. The woven pieces are based on the influence of Gypsy Hollingsworth, who was a well-known textile artist from Walnut Cove. Plus the interviews reflect the love that neighbors share for one another as part of a “tight-knit community.”

HVAC Screen at Boy Scout hut


To create security and privacy for the Boy Scout Hut, we will work with local craftsmen to create a paneled fence to protect the HVAC unit.

Meaning Behind the Symbolism


Jester Hairston

Jester Hairston was born in Little Egypt on the Hairston Plantation, which was flooded in the early 1970s to create Belews Lake, which provides cooling waters for the power station. Inspired by his grandmother, Jester Hairston collected spirituals through out the US. He also served as a UN Ambassador sharing the spirituals throughout the world and leading mass groups of people in song. The leader of his family, Hairston often spoke about the relationships he fostered between both the black and white side of the proclaimed nation’s largest family.


The Lilies of the Field

The Lilies of the Field is a reference to the movie starring Sidney Poitier, who won the first Oscar as an African-American for his role. Stokes County native, Jester Hairston’s wrote the song Amen, which is played throughout the movie. Poitier lip-syncs along to Hairston’s voice in the movie. The name of the movie comes from a conversation in the movie that references Matthew 6:28:

Why are you anxious about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.
They don’t toil, neither do they spin.

The movie title is where I came up with the name of The Lilies Project.