My quest for community.
using Faeries, a Buddha and an acrylic rock heart.
... for starters
It all started about 5 years ago after my partner died of liver cancer. I had been planting flowers in my little 4x4 plot in the community garden, but longed for a larger space, a more useful space.
One day I looked out the living room window and saw an elderly lady carrying an enormous coil of hose towards bushes people in the building knew were hers for many years.
She wasn't supposed to have a garden or plant anything back there. This was a planned residential community of over 3400 units and planting was limited to a small community garden. But everyone looked the other way.
"Ok. If she can do it, so can I". I spied a barren patch and got to work.
Like any unfettered project, the Garden began to grow exponentially: a large red acrylic rock heart surrounded by geraniums was followed by a "Faerie Portal", a " meditation station", a CD player and speakers placed behind a large trellis, and a birdhouse made almost entirely of branches from the echium bushes.
Oh, and a "Secret Sanctuary". And an herb wheel. And Beatrice's Lovers Bench. And garden view seating.
And lights. Lots of lights.
Building residents asked if the Garden had any special significance. It didn't really, until I thought of a fulfilling purpose: I called it
The 50 Chumasero Memorial Garden - for everyone who has lived and loved at 50 Chumasero.
I wanted the diverse residents to consider our building as a community.
Diverse residential areas have come under siege: no matter what location, people of every race, nationality, creed, and sexual orientation need to protect each other from the vicissitudes of a country becoming rife with hatred and violence.
The Garden has taken a good portion of six years to create and has hosted events like Valentine’ Day photo ops, Easter egg hunts, Earth Day and a children’s Great Butterfly Release. And of Holidays.
The Garden's Faeries have gotten into the spirit of community with their latest effort: special lighting and music for residents' birthdays. The results:
“…a really thoughtful and creative way to approach building community. It’s very pleasing to know that we have residents like you making grass root efforts. We stress community both for the Vision and Parkmerced today and we can host as many events imaginable, but it really comes down to residents getting involved and talking with their neighbors.”
I am also using the Garden’s building (50 Chumasero Dr.) as a laboratory of sorts for ideas regarding a proposed ecology program for all of Parkmerced: last year’s Earth Day, residents were given a tour of Parkmerced’s new sustainable plants, culminating with activities for the kids (receiving the chrysalises to grow the butterflies for release). So far, this proposal has received attention in being nominated for the Golden Gate award from San Francisco Beautiful.