One hundred and fifty volunteers signed up to work with the South County Tourism Council to build two giant trolls with world renowned recycle artist Thomas Dambo.

Walking across a dewy field of green grass and clover on April 16th the first volunteers trekked to a tent to await Thomas Dambo and his crew for work assignments in the build of Erik Rock and Greta Granite for the South County Tourism Council.  Over the course of 13 days, split into two shifts, excited, enthusiastic volunteers met at Ninigret Park for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Volunteering with Thomas Dambo is one of life's opportunities that I do not want to miss. The Troll's we visited in Maine were fantastic. They bring joy and wonder to everyone who has the chance to see them. The stories that accompany each Troll with their connection to the woods and the world speaks to the heart. We need more of them in the world and I would like to do what I can to help in this mission!” ~Laura

The response from throughout New England to volunteer with Thomas Dambo was overwhelming.  Without a single request for volunteers the South County Tourism Council had to turn away over one hundred people wanting to work on the trolls.  Known worldwide for his creation of over 130 Giant Trolls in 20 countries, recycle artist Thomas Dambo brings a message to the world, My mission is Waste No More: our world is drowning in trash, while we are running out of natural resources. I spend my life showing the world that beautiful things can be made out of trash. I give new life to discarded materials by turning them into large-scale artworks. My aim at the moment is to build 1,000 Trolls using recycled materials all over the world.

I love his message of turning “trash” into treasure. I love creating, repurposing materials and puzzling out solutions to mechanical challenges” ~ Chris

Here in South County the village people that helped bring Greta Granite and Erik Rock to life ranged in age from 9 to 80 years of age.  Volunteers came from as close as a ¼ mile away with many making a 2 hour drive from Massachusetts.

Sue wins the award for further distance traveled, and possibly the biggest fan of Thomas Dambo.  Waking up one morning she spoke with her husband, and for her birthday celebration, they got in their car and drove from NJ to find Thomas.  Not knowing where the troll build was, what the work schedules were like, or if Thomas was on site they showed up at Ninigret Park and started walking the expanse of the park. Sue found Thomas. “I have wanted to be a part of this since last summer when they came through NJ. We drove up to Rhode Island and got very lucky. We talked to some folks and all of a sudden, we are part of an amazing team!” As all the volunteers will attest, Thomas’s gratitude for the communities that support his work is genuine.  His engagement with individuals is sincere.  

Sue with Thomas Dambo

Like Sue, every volunteer had a story.  Every volunteer had a reason for being there.  And every volunteer has left a piece of themselves in Ninigret Park.  Adam was the first volunteer, reaching out to the South County Tourism Council in February, long before the beginning of the build was public knowledge. “As someone who spends the summers in Narragansett, I was thrilled to hear Dambo was going to build two trolls in South County. After finding so many trolls in Denmark, it would be an amazing opportunity for me to actually help build one.  I reached out to Ema Serdarevic (in Denmark), Dambo’s project manager, and she told me that the South County Tourism Council would be overseeing the volunteer recruitment process and directed me to reach out to you.”  Communications with Adam gave insight into his strong desire to work with the team.  “While studying abroad in Copenhagen, his trolls became one of the enjoyable and memorable parts of my experience. I was able to visit 16 of his trolls there. I really admire his rationale for the project in terms of getting people out into nature to explore less-traveled spaces, and using recycled materials. Reading his autobiography showed me just how extensive his project is and how much effort goes into it. Building a troll was on my bucket list as I left Copenhagen, so it felt like an amazing coincidence that he soon after decided to build two in Rhode Island. I knew it was an opportunity I simply could not pass up.”

“I love what he's doing. I love the idea of giant trolls in the woods. It's like stumbling upon Big Foot. It makes you wonder what else is out there. I also really appreciate the leave no trace aspect. I saw his trolls in Maine and Ohio. I'm excited that these will be in my home state! Can't wait to bring everyone and show them the troll I helped build.“  ~Jen

The volunteers worked hard.  The work entailed hours of tearing apart pallets, cutting boards to size, drilling, screwing, and the inevitable unknowns as a build gets underway.  On day one Thomas asked for two people to work with him “bushwhacking.”  No one knew how literal that phrase was.  Within two days of beating back years of growth, a path was cleared through the woods and thickets to what became the trail that leads to Greta Granite.  A huge thank you from the Tourism Council for this laborious job, you know who you are, we are grateful. 

“The more I looked into his work, I found that he would be working in Rhode Island on a new build and saw that I could sign up to volunteer, I knew I had to do it. Being a part of something sustainable that reaches so many people is a rare experience. The story told by his work is one that I want to be a part of.” ~Erin

Dambo Troll Build 1  Dambo troll build 2  dambo troll build 3 dambo troll build 4

Opportunity presented itself toward the end of the build when Henry, a lucky volunteer who signed up for multiple shifts, happened across piles of bamboo in Charlestown.  Bringing some to Thomas, the artist in him immediately envisioned hair.  That vision proved to be quite the unexpected job.  Volunteers stepped up to cut 25 foot long bamboo sticks into 200 pieces of 12 foot long sticks, load it in a truck, unload it at the site, and for two days split the bamboo into strands of hair for Greta Granite’s ponytail.  This labor of love is a stunning feature of Greta Granite.  

Bamboo bamboo 2


“I love creative collaboration and am passionate about environmental responsibility.  This kind of public art is an irresistible marriage of the two.  It’s not just a destination, but its a community journey as well. “ ~Pat

As people from around the country make their way into South County to experience the magic of Thomas Dambo’s work with trash the volunteers who were part of it will carry the message of Waste No More. 

“That was an exhilarating experience. They were very patient, wanted to teach and made sure we all felt welcomed and appreciated. What great people.”   Stay tuned for more info as the Rhode Island Troll Trail will continue in 2025.


Building the Trolls

troll slide 1
Taking apart pallets
troll slide 2
Ready to build
troll slide 3
troll slide 4
Troll assembly in progress
troll slide 5
Build volunteers with artist, Thomas Dambo
troll slide 6
Building a troll
troll slide 7
Posing with Greta Granite
troll slide 8
Raising Greta
troll slide 9
Kids posing with Greta Granite