Inviting a community’s residents to be part of redesigning their landscape helps to create outdoor space more responsive to their needs and increases the likelihood of their stewardship of the space. Currently Metro Blooms is on this journey with tenants at Brook Gardens, a rental community in Brooklyn Park where we recently finished our first nature play area, along with raingardens filled with plants to attract bees and butterflies. We’ve been laying the groundwork for over a year as part of a much larger renovation of Brook Gardens, inside and out, by manager Boisclair Corporation. Bit by bit we’re putting in practices that are kinder to the environment and that provide a safe outdoor environment where people want to spend time, encouraging social connection and active living. An important part of the process is working together with residents.
Brook Gardens is one of the latest projects in our work to engage residents of multi-family housing communities in the decision-making when redesigning their outdoors. Each renovation is unique because it is based on community priorities that we learn about by talking to residents. While this is the first time we put in a nature play area, it wasn’t a surprise to hear that play areas were a priority — Brook Gardens is home to many families with children. In comparison, at nearby Brooks Landing, another Boisclair property, the mostly senior population is more interested in easy-to-reach raised gardening beds and ample seating with shade. What is common in all of these projects, though, are sustainable practices, such as raingardens that soak in and clean stormwater and native plantings that provide food for pollinators.