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.

After having the idea of building a place to gather with our community, we went to our patients, local businesses, and neighbors and asked, “What were play spaces look 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

2018 - We moved to Lakewood shopping center

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. 

2019 - We painted the mural with the community

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 the same year we met with contractors to reach bids and after much collaboration and planning we finally had our mural painted thanks to the led by Cornelio Campos and Stephani Sanchez 

2020 – Build the Creek

We planted new seasonal trees and landscaping. Also, we installed a fence and created a beautiful sustainable creek where kids can play and cool down during summer. 

2021 – Started Kermeses and cultural celebrations

We started to get together with our community to celebrate our culture and pride around traditional food and dances from all Latinoamerica 

2022 – Sensory Garden /meditation path

Created with the intention to connect nature and our senses. The different plants, herbs and flowers along with different textures, colors and sounds, invite us to be present and engaged with the garden.

2023 – Backhill terraces

Phase one has been completed with some path for people to be able to go through. Phase two is in the creation and planning process.

2024 – Treehouse

Future construction to complete a mixed used of space to play.

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.

Cindy Rassi, AmeriCorps Community Engagement and Garden Coordinator

Cindy Rassi is currently an AmeriCorps Service Member positioned at El Futuro as the Therapeutic Green Space and Community Engagement Coordinator. Cindy is originally from Colombia, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture. She came to the USA twenty years ago, and her own immigration experience and her work with non-profits and families with children in underserved communities in the Boston area prompted her to follow her path in Spiritual Care. Cindy received a Master of Divinity from the School of Theology at Boston University and began working as a hospice and hospital chaplain. She is interested in how social determinants of health, ecological justice, and faith manifest and impact Latino families and individuals and the spiritual challenges they experience. Cindy moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina recently. She lives with her husband, their three children, their dogs Kira and Gizmo, and “Luna,” her 16-year-old cat. Cindy practices meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda in her free time and enjoys reading about Buddhism, climate change, and science fiction.