Green Space Revitalization


Why we build this space

In 2018, with support from Triangle Community Foundation and other donors, El Futuro launched Phase 1 of 3 phase to beautify the green space next to our Lakewood clinic and to preserve this natural space for therapeutic benefits and community vitality.
This outdoor therapeutic space will conserve and beautify the neighborhood’s open land through a community-centered design process that celebrates a rich and diverse Latino heritage with the incorporation of thoughtful design features and art installations.

The design

We went to our patients, local businesses, and neighbors that consist of a large Mexican and El Salvadorian community, and asked, “What were play spaces like for you during your childhood?” What we heard was that they didn’t have big plastic playgrounds, rather they played in fields, trees, and streams! This resonated with us, because many of us were creek kids – spending hours playing in creeks and rivers.

How does this project relate to mental health?

Our intention is to create a space in which immigrant families, who too often feel excluded, isolated, or unwanted, can feel like they truly belong, are welcomed and included, and can contribute their best gifts in their new community. There’s an increased emphasis on the public health epidemic of loneliness. Studies demonstrate the negative mental and physical health impacts of our modern culture in the United States. Through beautifying the green space in intentional, therapeutic ways, we hope to cultivate a familial and communal environment. This has become even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through intentional design features, space is meant to mimic the look and feel of public plazas found in Central and South America, as well as agrarian regions that many immigrant families find familiar.


Are you interested in helping us maintain our garden and green space? Please visit our get involved page on how you could volunteer.

Project Timeline

Phase 1

April 2018 we kicked off the renewal of our space with a volunteer workday. We installed a bubbling water feature, public garden with seasonal produce, fruit trees, a bench, and a deck area.

Phase 2

June 2019 we received another grant with a match. We started to gather community input and connect with others to help enrich the design. In the fall of 2019, we met with contractors to reach bids and after much collaboration and planning, this phase was completed August 2020.

Phase 3

This phase largely consists of landscaping and fence installation, followed by volunteer workdays for garden maintenance, as well as community fiestas—coronavirus permitting. Still underway.

Tierra Firme: Design

Check out these local companies with whom we have partnered!

Bull City Brick & Restoration is a Latino-owned business that was founded on the principle of helping Bull City’s residents take on projects, regardless of the size or task.

Tributary strives to engage people with the outdoors by designing spaces that are ecologically diverse, culturally sensitive, and inherently interactive.

Whitaker Waterscapes is a family-run business. They have created many outdoor spaces that stand out, yet blend in beautifully
with the natural settings.

Hayley Cruz, El Futuro’s AmeriCorps member

Hayley was born and raised in Cataula, Georgia, a small town outside of Columbus. She recently graduated from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where she studied Spanish and Pre-medicine and minored in Medical Missions. It was there that she met her husband, who is from Belize. 

While in school, Hayley traveled to many Latin American countries to improve her Spanish and learn more about the culture. Her favorite trip was a 6-week medical internship in Guatemala, where she worked in clinics in both rural and urban parts of the country. While she loves being at El Futuro, she is very excited to start medical school in West Virginia next year. Her long-term goal is to serve as a primary care physician to a primarily Hispanic/Latinx community in a rural setting. 

In her free time, Hayley loves to read, cook with her husband, spend time outdoors, and play with her Great Pyrenees, Lola. She also loves sitting outside of El Futuro and enjoying the beautiful Green Space and mural! 

Currently, Hayley is serving an 11-month term as El Futuro’s AmeriCorps Community Engagement and Garden Coordinator. As such, she will play an integral role in Green Space projects and community building. During her time with us, Hayley hopes to continue learning about the importance of mental health awareness and the benefits the Therapeutic Green Space can bring to our community.