Tending to a Garden within the Pavement

Chris's early thoughts for the Papermaker's Garden

(This is a re-creation of my first blog post that I somehow deleted by accident, hitting "save" now...)

Averaged responses to the Place Game questionnaire, wherein 1 is excellent, 2 is fair, 3 is poor

Comfort & Image= 2.25

Access & Linkages=1.25

Uses & Activities=2.25


More questions....

1. What do you like best about this place?

I like that it exists at all, that someone took the time and energy to create a garden in an empty lot.  I like that Columbia was willing to devote this piece of prime real estate to be a garden.  Although wouldn't have been better for Columbia to sell the land so someone could put up another 7/11, not enough of those around...just kidding of course!  I also like the sheer size of the space, lots of potential for events.

2. List three things that you would do to improve this place that could be done right away and that wouldn’t cost a lot:

take down the fence

more (any) rain barrels

more raised beds

also ...maybe a birdhouse/feeder (maybe one that is too small for pigeons?) beehive, more flowers to feed bees (and bring joy)

maybe take down separator between garden and bike racks (don't people lock up bikes?  why do bike racks need to be fenced in), maybe leave up some of the back fences to expand the photo/art installations

I really like all the busted off bike reflectors on the fences, would like to see that expanded, and broadened to include any number of otherwise non-recyclable but kinda pretty hang-able stuff, like bottle caps, empty cigarette lighters, mardi gras beads, torn cloth, scratched cds....

3. What three changes would you make in the long term that would have the biggest impact?

More benches and poles for hammock installations, maybe a gazebo

Access to running water on site, for thirsty plants and people

dig out some sections of the many feet deep gravel to foster some bigger plants whose roots run deeper

4. Ask someone who is in the “place” what they like about it and what they would do to improve it. Their answer:

Yikes!!  I forgot to ask anyone when I was on-site!  Sorry!!

I did take a bunch of pictures.  I got a lot of dirty/confused looks from folks while doing so, as if they could not imagine why anyone would take pictures of such an unremarkable locale--and so, they seemed to presume that I was taking pictures of them.

Also, there really wasn't anyone "in" this place, only folks walking by it, none of whom seemed remotely curious about the place, despite the fact that it is the only urban garden in the vicinity.

5. What local partnerships or local talent can you identify that could help implement some of your proposed improvements? Please be as specific as possible.

Columbia grounds department, Columbia recycling department, Roots (Columbia student organization focused on gardening), maybe the CTA and whoever they have been partnering with for their public art installations, Chicago Honey Co-op (for bees), rooftop/urban garden experts, the handful of biology/ecology faculty at Columbia, whoever owns the parking lots adjacent to the space,  local mystics who can invite back in, have a special affinity with, ability to communicate with and for, ability to foster mating and reproduction of, and encourage joy (rather than displeasure) amongst whatever local fairies, elves, gnomes, plant devas, and other nature spirits who can enliven this space with the magic of life....

And now for some pictures....

Here we are, we can see the soil, but can't our hands dirty

tiny tulips!  its been a cool spring, so still some time before the blossoms bring joy

a little different angle

northwest (back) corner

north side

from the back, lots of space

photos and reflectors in the adjacent bike rack area

way far southwest corner, so much space!


front view from the street, when plants on the sidewalk leaf out
 the Garden won't be a visible...
a big beautiful sign or mural or mosaic could help....

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