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.

Jaeleen Mendoza, El Futuro’s AmeriCorps member

Jaeleen was born in California, but grew up in Pfafftown, NC a very small town outside of Winston-Salem. She recently graduated from NC State, where she studied international studies and communication media while minoring in Italian. Growing up, she spent a lot of time in Georgia, where she enjoyed creating strong family and cultural bonds with her extended family.

While in school, she worked as a high school teacher’s assistant for Spanish classes and also worked for the office of Waste Reduction and Recycling at NC State. One of Jaeleen’s favorite jobs was as a graphic designer for a NC State-led documentary focusing on hurricane recovery and community resiliency in Robeson County, NC. 

Currently, Jaeleen is serving an 11-month term as our 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, Jaeleen hopes to continue exploring her passions for sustainability and community, all the while learning about the mental health benefits that natural spaces provide.

In her free time, Jaeleen likes to explore walking trails and the NC Museum of Art. She also enjoys learning new baking recipes and traveling.