Imagining and re imagining space

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Our Rural Center at El Sereno will be growing this year as three structures will be demolished, making room for farm land. As the main users of the space, and in order to understand their perspectives,  I engaged one class in re imagining the garden and coming up with their own ideas for the new spaces.

 

 

Its been a challenging exercise, understanding spacial dimension, scale and good design.

We began with walking the garden and noting whats already there and how it serves various needs. Many maps were looked at and understood. After a few sessions we broke into groups and each took on a section of the garden to observe closely, measure and redesign where necessary or leave as it stands.

 

 

They looked at landscape architecture books, and many maps of different places. Several rough sketches later with help from their math teacher and a volunteer landscape architecture student, the kids began to translate their ideas on paper to scale, and slowly began to grasp how such large spaces can be shrunk to a much smaller size and still make sense.

The kids peer reviewed each others work and chose one group to make the final presentation of their garden design.

We did a practice run asking them questions about their design choices, allowing them to refine and plug the holes for the final presentation to the principal and other adults from the school.

Meanwhile two children had interviewed a few teachers who used to occupy the old buildings to record oral histories of the place as well as their aspirations for the future. They also interviewed other school children to get a sense of what everyone makes of our garden and where they would like it to go.

And then came presentation day – it was a little nerve racking for the children but though they were nervous they were so outwardly calm and made their teacher proud of all these weeks of giving design a real shot! Bravo to Mr Muro their math teacher and every student for taking garden classes to a whole other level.

 

 

Tahereh Sheerazie

Tahereh likes to hike, bike, quilt, cook and most of all garden. She has been a garden ranger with EnrichLa since January 2015. She teaches middle school children, many of whom have special needs which has necessitated a slow, mindful approach to place based garden education. Improving soil, making compost, harvesting water, growing natives and ancient grains and journal writing, is what she enjoys doing most with the children.

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