All posts by Ecomama

Highland Parkway Beautification Project

photo 3 photo 2 photo 1 DSC_0226 DSC_0222 DSC_0221 DSC_0219 DSC_0212 DSC_0203 DSC_0196 DSC_0188 DSC_0178 DSC_0173 DSC_0171 DSC_0163 DSC_0153 DSC_0152 DSC_0150 DSC_0145 DSC_0118 DSC_0117 DSC_0114 DSC_0111 DSC_0097-1 DSC_0095-1 DSC_0089-1 DSC_0087-1 DSC_0085-1 DSC_0068-1After many months of planning and many days of prep, the neighbors were all gathered on June 14th to dig in and get the party started. There were many familiar faces, as well as a few new ones. Everyone collaborated and created a great place for all of us to be proud of.

The soil was amended with compost and manure. It was tilled and watered a couple weeks before to get the microbes very active and ready to nourish. The plants were purchased at the Grow Native Garden on the Veteran’s Administration campus in Westwood. They were 25% off, but ended up costing around $600. They are all natives and drought tolerant. We purchased some pavers and large rocks for a natural addition to the parkway. We had to install step-outs to stay in the guidelines from the city and we used flagstone for those. The kids painted rocks with colorful colors to add their creative influence.

It was so amazing how much everyone enthusiastically got into planting and designing. I could have never done it alone, nor would I have wanted to. I’m happy to call my neighbors my friends now. Stay tuned for a “Wishing Tree”.

http://smdp.com/community-project-beautify-highland-ave/137205

 

Transforming the Alley

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This placemaking project takes place in an alley, in Santa Monica, CA. However, this alley is different. This alley is the front porch for nearly 45 people and those people cross each other’s paths on a daily basis. This alley is presently being transformed into a place of relationships, idea exchange and fun moments. This alley project is a process in dedication, vulnerability and my personal faith that my vision for my community is one that can be shared with those that live around me.

When one thinks of an alley, images of trash, drug addicts, abandoned cars and even 5ft weeds might come to light.  As you can see from the image on the following page, the Ocean Park Place alley is a boring and static place.  However, it contains tremendous, hidden opportunities for a new kind of space that can bridge the gap between back doors and community activity.  If the residents take advantage of the opportunity it will offer an openness that can counter the most hardened ideas of our time –– the belief that we are separate from those around us, when in fact we all desire the same thing: companionship. The simple act of changing the alley from an automobile-friendly zone to a people friendly zone would have untold positive consequences. There is a “need for stimulation”, a need to “experience people” who “offer a wealth of sensual variation” as opposed to the drudgery of experiencing only buildings and inanimate objects. We as people need other people to stimulate us and color our lives, make it more attractive, make our routine more colorful and meaningful. This need is often neglected in urban settings like this alley and I have begun here to change this fact.

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Alley Gathering #1

It was April 27th, 2013. The day was tight. I was in school that whole week and had to return right after the gathering.  I wanted it to be perfect.  I had to make a conscious effort to tell myself that it will be perfect no matter what. My heart was in it and that sealed the deal.  At the time of set up I had wished I had a couple neighbors that were into it like me and could help me with the set-up, but, that wasn’t the case. Maybe one day it might be the case. But for now, I had to hustle on my own. I put up the Neighbor Day sign. I unfolded chairs. I put up a rope across the alley that had colorful flags on it. I made ice tea and laid out the cookies. I uncorked the wine and iced the beer. Then I waited. And they came from up the alley, from down the alley…they came.

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Alley Gathering #2

The third gathering was great. New and returning neighbors had a fun time reconnecting and talking about the alley. A Backwards Beekeeper, Susan Rudnicki, came and did a presentation about urban beekeeping. She brought a live hive and the kids went bananas. The adults were pretty into as well. Another Placemaking event connecting the neighbors even closer.

Work Party Meeting

A work party is a day when neighbors get together to start a community project. Our community project is to install an ocean friendly garden in a parkway that is at the entrance to our alley. As you can see from the pictures the parkway is in need of some beautification. Not only does it improve the area it bonds neighbors in an investment everyone has a say in. It allows the kids to be a part of creative placemaking and is a prime example of learning to collaborate with people that live next door.

The work party meeting is a time to come together, usually a smaller group that can manifest into the core group, and discuss ideas about the project. During this meeting we discussed the types of plants and layout design of the parkway that we envisioned.

AlleyUp: Transforming space into place

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This project is a demonstration of human connection and communal harmony with people that live around us. It illustrates how taking the steps to form relationships with people in one’s community can lead to a sustainable living environment. Just as Yi-Fu Tuan says, we take for granted the “space and place [that are] basic components of the lived world”—it is when we think about them more closely that they “may assume unexpected meanings and raise questions we have not thought to ask”.

One might ask; where are the opportunities to connect with those around us? What is the exact moment that trust begins to form and strangers become familiar? While you ponder these questions, let me briefly explain the difference between the concept of ‘space’ and ‘place’ within the context of this proposal. Space is simply square footage, a distance that is a “meaningless spatial concept apart from the idea of goal or place”—it is the unintentional that exists before we form it into a place. A place is where we “pause”; we settle down because the location is advantageous in one way or another, and our presence imbues the former space with a goal and an intention. Because of this pause, there is an opportunity for “a locality to become a center of felt value”. That opportunity is what we want to take in this project. We live so closely with one another, that within these spaces people share in our everyday lives, we are given chance after chance to connect. Yet, we don’t connect and relationships are not formed where they could have been. The urban environment lends itself to making “passive contact” relationships in spaces that we find ourselves in while entering and exiting our private space. But, how can we get to a place where chance meetings become opportunities to share our lives? This project is geared towards changing this trend of isolation and alienation within an urban space: the alley where I live.

When people connect, they create. What they create are relationships that support the exchange of ideas and resources. Coming together in the shared spaces that border our lives leads to the creation of a place that belongs to everyone. This project has qualities that are defined as placemaking. Placemaking can be done in small and subtle ways, such as someone planting flowers and putting a welcome mat out. They can also be a collection of ideas such as a mural or a rain garden. A community can be a brilliant, sacred, living and breathing place whose people are its richest and most powerful resource.

This placemaking project takes place in an alley, in Santa Monica, CA. However, this alley is different. This alley is the front porch for nearly 45 people and those people cross each other’s paths on a daily basis. This alley is presently being transformed into a place of relationships, idea exchange and fun moments. This alley project is a process in dedication, vulnerability and my personal faith that my vision for my community is one that can be shared with those that live around me.

SPACE

Before

 

PLACE

After