Summary of Peace Garden Community Visioning Nite

About 25 people came over to the Egleston Y on a cold, rainy day and gave their thoughts on what a refreshed Peace Garden could look like. This is a summary of what was offered:

Notes on how people currently use the space:

  • “I walk by at least 4x a day”
  • Music
  • Poetry
  • Summer Movies
  • Tree Lighting
  • Vigil
  • Free Library
  • “Green space and plants in my life”
  • Casual Conversation

Notes on how to enhance the bus stop. Keep in mind that the Peace Garden serves as a Pick Up/Drop Off for school children but also has a MBTA bus stop for the 42 bus.

  • Add a Bus Shelter
  • Better Signage
  • Add a solar bench (here’s an example of one by Soofa)
  • Dedicated seating that’s permanent (note: right now the community has added a small bench and some chairs for people to use by waiting for the bus)
  • Blackboard & Chalk
  • A buffer (plants or a screen) to shield from noise/wetness from traffic.

Notes on what keeps some people away.

  • The space is not level…many elevations. Makes it difficult for people with ambulatory issues to walk on.
  • Some sort of overhead structure to shield during rain.
  • No lights after dark.
  • Trash
  • “Boxiness”
  • People drinking and arguing.
  • Fast traffic with little separation.
  • Nothing for kids … maybe a play structure.

What do people want to see in the space (programs and/or activities)

  • Repaint the original Peace Garden sign that hung over the murals.
    • include Mendell & Hernandez School as well as the youth from the Egleston Y.
  • Growing food, Kitchen herbs, “Green” walls
  • Bicycle Repair Station
  • Opportunities for exhibits about local/regional history and other images
  • Outdoor barber area.
  • Game tables, picnic tables (so people can face each other), Adirondack chairs
  • Us the billboard as a canvas (artworks on one side, movie screening on the other
  • A space for outdoor meetings — general assemblies
  • Educational opportunities for schools in the area
  • Zen rock garden
  • I think of it more as a plaza (less green, more bricks)
  • some sort of historic nod to the elevated T line that ran down Washington
  • Electricity on site in order to run the events held there

Wall of Possibility

  • Solar benches
  • Shelter over the stage
  • chess tables
  • water fountain
  • “make the billboard higher and decorate the poles”
  • more places to sit
  • New Murals

Someone asked the COG team if people can see best practice examples of other like sized spaces. One example that was brought up was Princess Garden (Prinzessinnenngarten) in Berlin.

We also spent some time talking about the current state of ownership of the Peace Garden. Here is a short rundown of the facts around the space:

  • The parcel is owned by Clear Channel who has a 20 year memorandum of understanding with a local non profit, ESAC, that runs out this year. Currently Egleston Square Main Street serves as it’s chief programmer and maintenance entity and recently a Friends of the Peace Garden has been established. The Garden has also been informally adopted by a group of Northeastern students who have build a ramp up to our stage and do regular cleanups.
  • An informal wish list ranges from Clear Channel donating a small percentage of proceeds from the billboard onsite to help fund a maintenance plan and programming to Clear Channel donating the site to the community.

What’s next?

We will continue to get feedback from the community to give to the COG design team and at some point we will hold a convening to see a proposal. Once a design is agreed upon, Egleston Square Main Street and ESAC will lead a fundraising effort to try and have the design implemented within the year.

Give us your thoughts! What would you like to see happen?