Saturday, September 23, 2017

New rain garden near Hamline

CGEE Student Voice
by Jenni Abere

This fall, Hamline University has the exciting opportunity to be involved in a prairie restoration/rainwater management project just a short walk from campus. The site is on the inside of the cloverleaf leading from Snelling to Pierce Butler. There is already a small holding pond here; soon, native plants will be seeded and planted. The site will also act as an “outdoor classroom” for Hamline and other schools in the area, with educational signage.

Earlier in September, the non-native plants and weeds were killed with herbicide and then burned to prepare for prairie planting. Later, on October 15th and 21st, there will be two Plantón Móvil events and native plants will be carried to the site and planted.

My class witnessed the controlled burn of the site. 
Plantón Móvil is a participatory art project started by Lucia Monge, where people and plants become one for a walk, and then a park or green space is created or added to. There are great photos of previous Plantón Móvils on her website.

The event on October 15th will be with Hamline Elementary students. The event on October 21st will be open to everyone.

My Sustainability on Campus class this fall has been focused on planning these events. I’m in the facilitation committee, so we are thinking about all the logistics involved: where and when we meet, what route we walk to get to the site, music and food to provide, planting the plants once we get there.

We have also put a lot of thought into the ways that people can move with the plants. We won’t have many large plants, especially at this time of year. We will mostly have small plugs. So, we’re considering different ways that people can wear plants.

This project is a fun way to get people involved in water issues. It’s clear that our approach to water management is flawed; we get the water out of cities as fast as possible, and it carries pollution into rivers and to the ocean. We don’t let water soak into the ground, and refill aquifers; we funnel it into the ocean, where it contributes to sea level rise. This garden will allow water to stay where it falls, and soak into the ground instead of rushing off in the sewer.

This small project connects to a lot of big picture issues, and will be a great learning experience for everyone involved.

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