Having heard about this project and looked it up via the internet, I was interested to see this plot for myself. So Saturday, following a trip to Lois Hole's Centennial Provincial Park and the wetlands, I headed for the last remaining CN bridge in the "downtown" core of Edmonton.
Here several volunteers laboured to make what had been a neglected bridge/pathway over 97 Street a living bridge.
|Unseen by passing motorists, the volunteer gardeners have a view of downtown|
and Chinatown from this revitalized plot aboard the bridge.
|A combination of edible plants as well as ornamentals like portulaca|
and roses are planted in the raised beds.
Call it urban intervention or tactical urbanism, the volunteers hope to somewhat replicate a similar project on an empty lot on 96 street, "Dirt City, Dream City."
Volunteers hope the idea will be embraced by passersby and the homeless. It is not the nicest neighbourhood, but with this addition, perhaps a sense of pride in the area will become established. I applaud their efforts. And then, tucked away in a shady corner, beneath tarps erected against the elements, I noted a homeless person or persons have staked claim.
This area of town has a feeling of neglect and poverty, one just has to look around to see them...the homeless souls who spend their days and sometimes their nights out on the street. Seeing them leaves me with a feeling of unease and deep sadness for their distress.
Throughout this city, and I'm sure many others, schools are being closed down due to low attendance and the children within the area are then bussed to other schools, sometimes new schools built in a newer neighbourhood. The old school buildings sit there neglected, dilapidated, tired and worn. Much like the homeless who wander the streets.
What if the city had a plan? What if these two, the schools and the homeless, were put together in an initiative to provide a use for the buildings and a home for the homeless? What if tradespeople either donated (volunteered) their time and skills or were paid an honorarium to renovate the retired schools into apartments? What if the homeless were taught these skills by these same tradespeople, at no cost to the tradespeople, and they learned them within the confines of the old schools? What if an initiative were put in place to supply the tools and supplies necessary to accomplish this?
Imagine, if you will, skills and trades being taught to the willing individuals in exchange for supplying a roof over their heads? Imagine them working together, learning, and building for themselves a home. Again imagine they have now learned skills with which to employ themselves, to build their confidence and to give their lives purpose. Imagine the pride and confidence in achieving, by their very own efforts, a home where they didn't before have one. Imagine the desire they would have to maintain it because they made it.
Imagine the funding coming from our government for something so vitally important and desirable instead of spending xxx amount of dollars on an art installation outside of Commonwealth Rec Centre, an installation that arguably speaks to no one, nor has a significance or desired beauty to the sports complex and surrounding area. Or how about the Talus Dome, an expensive mound of silver.... balls? Whose idea was it to spend tax dollars on that?
Why not fund initiatives that will in turn help our city, aid the homeless in regaining their lives, and clean up physical and reputed less desirable areas within our area? Why not assist others to help themselves and give back to society?
|photo taken by K Schaeble|
Hope" - is there a better name for this statue which sits just outside the garden area?
Through the chain link fence, above left, is the garden. The trees in the foreground were planted in memorium of individuals who served in the community.
*I wonder if any of you out there have joined a similar initiative, become a guerilla gardener or brainstormed over the homeless issues? Do you think my idea has merit? Is it viable? Can it be done and would you be supportive of such an initiative in your town/city?
To learn more about this garden project see 97 Street Overpass Reborn Living Bridge.