This project works to transform the impermeable concrete landscape and improve outdoor livability at Riverside Plaza through participatory landscape design, installation, and care focused on stormwater management and urban habitat. This resident-centered design project is conducted in partnership with the Riverside Plaza Tenant Association (RPTA) and property managers. Since the start of planning in 2018, we have been working with many project stewards who are leading the engagement of their neighbors. The first raingarden on site was installed in 2019 with help from nearly 50 residents, staff, and community volunteers. In 2020, we received funding from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to expand on this and install an additional raingarden and park. The park is planned for 2023.
Riverside Plaza offers some really innovative engagement opportunities. For example, one of the rain gardens is a song garden. A plaque in the rain garden has a QR code that connects people to “Ayatiin ka bari” (You May Learn),” composed by Ardo Muse, a song about the Riverside community and its relationship to water and gardening. The song comes through Ecosong.
Throughout this project, residents and staff at Riverside have shared some of their stories about the impact the project has had. We’ve included a couple of those stories below:
Storyteller Dube: “This project has been able to bring different people together that have lived together in the same building for decades, for the same mission. That’s been really good. It has brought a lot of beautiful greenery to a community that I have lived in a long time, but never saw much intention. I used to do this in Afric, and forgot a little but now it’s like getting used to doing something that you love but in a new place”
Storyteller Tamerat: “The project helps global warming in a small scale. When I wake up in the morning and this is part of my work and the stewardship, these flowers make my day brighter. When you have gatherings you build really good relationships. When I walk through or drive by here, I will remember that I planted and matured this garden and that’s my footprint right there.”