Jens Jensen, lauded by the New York Times as “the dean of landscape architecture” cultivated an authentic set of values rooted in the idea that we all share a natural heritage together. Some of Jensen’s contemporaries from the Prairie School era included Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dwight H. Perkins, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, who all shared a vision for organic design, working with natural materials, rockwork and plants. May T. Watts, Alfred Caldwell, Carl Sandburg and Jane Addams were among his cherished friends. His poetic writings recall the sentiments of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
singing prairie voices hear
A creative, social experience that gives players voice through poetry. Imaginative, whimsical, and playfully fun!
Prairie Prose is simple to play for players of all ages who are able to read and count. Players create their poems with themed words from Prairie School writings by Jens Jensen and his peers. Inscribed on hand-cut paper petals and gingko leaves, words inspired by nature are scattered across a hand-painted muslin play mat that features an imagined council ring with prairie wildflowers. The gameset includes: instructions, an assortment of poetry petals, bonus petals and gingko leaf messages, hand-painted wildflower muslin play mat & drawstring storage sack, blank poetry booklet, and references.
A unique, locally made, cooperative green game. No special assembly required.
Jens Jensen was known for creating open meadow spaces that captured the light moving through the trees at different times of day — awash by the sun from morning ’til dusk, while lit up under a pale pearly moon at night. In Siftings, he described being inspired by the prairie rose, a reminder of his childhood days in Denmark. These motifs are integral to the Prairie Prose game experience.
There is only one bird in the air
and his name is ALL Wings.
There is only one fish in the sea
and his name is ALL Fins.
There is only one man in the world
and his name is ALL Men.
There is only one woman in the world
and her name is ALL Women.
There is only one child in the world
and the child's name is ALL Children.
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, biographer of Abraham Lincoln, and author of Rootabaga Stories (1922) for children. He was among Jensen’s cherished friends who spent time with him in his council ring overlooking the picturesque ravines at Jensen’s Highland Park residence on Dean Street. Sandburg was a major supporter of the Dunes Movement with Jensen and others who defended, “They constitute a signature of time and eternity: once lost, the loss would be irrevocable.”
In establishing The Clearing, Jensen invoked his early experiences at Danish folk schools. One of his signature design features was the council ring, sculpted from carefully arranged natural rocks. Within this magic circle, he imagined a sacred space “for gatherings of young and old, where the local poet or dramatist may inspire the community with song and poetry, or the philosopher give his ideas on the philosophy of life.”
A historic project that celebrated Jensen’s love of storytelling included the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern University. Founded in 1915 by the Garden Club of Evanston to honor William Shakespeare in which flowers, herbs and other plants mentioned in his plays that were also native to the Evanston area were included in his formal design.
A ring speaks of strength and friendship and is one of the great symbols of mankind. The fire in the center portrays the beginning of civilization, and it was around the fire our forefathers gathered when they first placed foot on this continent.
Jens Jensen inaugurated the first ‘American Garden’ in Chicago with his plantings of native plants to the city and created the first modern glass house in the country with his design of the Garfield Park Conservatory. He also organized ‘The Pageant of the Year and Play Festival’ in Garfield Park (1915), that exemplifies the outdoor festivities he often orchestrated to raise social awareness to preserve the natural environment. About 1,400 costumed children and adults came together to tell the story of the changing seasons of the year, enjoyed by an outdoor audience of 25,000+ which inspired the creation of the Prairie Fairies cooperative game experience.
Moved by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Jensen wrote about nature in a book called Siftings. He was an early conservationist who co-organized theatrical performances, fairy festivals and pageants to save endangered landscapes, including the Indiana Dunes. The spirit of Jensen’s life and work makes him a timeless hero for all generations to be inspired by and learn from.
As a gift to fellow Americans, Jensen designed the Lincoln Memorial Gardens with eight council rings in Springfield, the capitol city of Illinois, where he invited girl and boy scouts to plant acorns, which have blossomed into trees that continue to honor President Lincoln today.