A great deal of imagination is still needed for the Palmer Street lot as it remains in a legal tangle. Last fall, we gathered over 90 suggestions of what residents hope the Palmer Lot will become in the future. It is still uncertain since its owner is still nowhere to be found, but retains the right to his property since it is current on all taxes, thanks to the mortgage company. Now, it stands, still colorful, with “community” as its tagline, but a bit of a relic before its time. As noted above: imagination is sorely needed! (and perhaps some legal knowledge wouldn’t hurt!)
Collective social consciousness of waste, sustainable resources, economics, and pollution have influenced stakeholders to take a broader view of many design professions, especially architecture, which uses the greatest amount of resources of human enterprises. Indeed, LEED (the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) helps establish standards of responsible resource making and gathering at the onset of design, while the temporal scope of architecture has also expanded beyond the finished building; design professionals need to take responsibility for the future maintenance and, even, potential disposal of the structure. Maintenance of a private residence requires the ultimate initiative of the owner; for public projects, the community is tasked with ongoing stewardship. Uncared for parks demonstrate that municipal trash pick-up isn’t enough. So, in addition to the materials, and the foresight, we need to also design for engagement; community building is a social and spatial problem, and creative design can aid the rigorous community organization of so many neighborhood leaders, activists, and planners.
SPSP was happy to be part of such an effort of Saturday, May 3rd in Mattapan in collaboration with the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC), Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, and neighbors. We were also delighted to re-use four bright orange frames initially created for another project.
In tandem with the “Boston Shines” city-wide clean-up effort, we erected creative signage on the lot to communicate the message that the planned community garden needs more gardeners. Design for social engagement is a compelling design challenge; the project is often a temporary installation, with no budget, infused with contextual issues and histories, inherently political, that seeks to reach a diverse number of people in circumstances that often hinder civic participation. On the Woolson Street lot, while volunteers cleaned up trash and weeded around daffodils, we posted signs that signal the beginning of the transformation of a lot that has a history of tragedy, and a desired future of community, safety, commemoration, and beautiful gardens!
If you would like to support the community gardens proposed at the Woolson Street Lot – support the project at Make Architecture Happen!
The front of the Community Suggestion Wall is almost complete and asks residents to imagine what this lot could be. The final, essential touch, will be the chalk that will be placed on site as soon as this fall rain passes. The head of the wall will serve as a Community Bulletin board with the bold artwork of the neighborhood helpers.
Last week, the Department of Public Works graded the parcel at 38-40 Palmer Street.
This lot has already been through a lot! But the grading marks the physical beginning of the lot as Community Engagement Site! Art, events, music, food, and much more will engage residents and visitors… but more on that later.
First, a short history on this lot: On March 12, 2012, the City of Salem claimed a lien upon the lot at 38-40 Palmer Street in The Point Neighborhood of Salem, Massachusetts. That January, city officials contracted to remove a dilapidated one story building that had become a public safety issue, a fact that came to light the previous summer during a neighborhood walkthrough with local teens, the mayor, and police.
Last March we interviewed locals on what they may want to see on this lot. Some of their responses prompted more action:
– Needs to be cleaned up a little bit more.
– This should be a place for the youth and kids to have a safe place to be off streets.
– A park needs to be here.
– Empty space going to waste. They should make some kind of kid recreation, mostly for the summer and for the winter there is nothing for these kids to do.
– They should build something for the kids.
– A big empty space that should be filed with something positive for the community.
– This should be a place where the kids can learn about gardening and painting.
– There should be a little park for kids under 5 because big kids and little kids can’t play in the same park because the big kids hurt the little kids.as documented in a survey taken March 30th, 2013