Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Courthouse Garden

I came across this video today and wanted to share it here. It's about a garden that I helped "build" next to the Eugene Federal Courthouse during the Spring term 2010. You may have heard me talking about it before because this project really meant a lot to me. Heck, anyone visiting me during Spring or Summer last year got to see it whether they wanted to or not.

The green roof I built is on the "green box" drop container that holds the tools for the Courthouse Garden (CHG). So I've spent a lot of time and effort at this site.

It was a truly inspiring endeavor and I'm so grateful to have been a part of it. Working side by side guys who were coming out of the federal corrections system really opened my eyes to how a landscape or garden can heal a person and how as landscape architects it is our honor and obligation to work for the greater good of humanity and society.

I was lucky enough to be in the inaugural class. The garden itself is located on the old Agri-pac site in Eugene, Oregon. The site sat empty for years after the packing plant closed, leaving an empty, derelict lot next to the brand new Federal Courthouse.

It was a lot of hard and dirty work. We literally built the garden beds up from a compacted gravel and/or concrete base. We laid out the locations of the planting beds, carried in several tons of soil, compost and leave mold by hand, in wheelbarrows. We installed irrigation, trellises, bean "tunnels" and even a stacked "stone" wall made out of the concrete debris on the site. We, the UO students designed, planted, weeded along side 10 guys from Judge Aiken's re-entry court. These are the people in the video above.

On weekends, Stephen and I would frequently volunteer at the CHG. I frequently brought my kids to the garden to work also. I wanted them to know about the importance of what we were doing. I wanted them to understand certain very subtle things about how we as a society treat people who have been in the correctional system, and, why the standard is just plain wrong.

After watching it again, I'm positively aching to get back out there and see how all the guys are doing.

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