Editor and Designer
CUNY Queens College; Evergreen Community Garden; GreenThumb
City Parks Foundation; NYC Parks
Referred to as a "battlefield" by the media, Evergreen Community Garden has had a rough past with a persistent cultural divide - but the largest community garden in NYC does not have a communication tool that would help unify this fractured community.
Our goal is to help create a peaceful, welcoming space that promotes the garden’s cultural potential while conserving biocultural knowledge. We believe that to effectively do this, intercultural communication is key and reducing linguistic barriers is a necessary first step in fostering cross-cultural dialogue. In Spring 2016, a newsletter will be launched in four languages - Chinese, English, Korean and Spanish - that aims to engage gardeners in their respective language to help bridge the widening cultural divide.
The newsletter would serve as a platform where gardeners can communicate cultural knowledge, farming techniques and their unique Diaspora experience amplifying diverse perspectives while promoting solidarity. A collaboration between Evergreen gardeners, GreenThumb and CUNY Queens College Asian Center hopes to bring about the cultural understanding and sensitivity necessary to strengthen cultural cohesion at Evergreen Community Garden.
A Turbulent Past and Lackluster Present
The dust may have settled after the violent outbursts and chaos of 2012, but the garden continues to remain divided. The Steering Committee has made a valiant effort at lessening the homogeneity at the garden, and although ethnic diversity has increased cultural barriers still persist because diversity itself does not define inclusivity. Internal struggles in leadership have fragmented the garden further, limiting execution on meaningful programming that address cultural differences and foster cohesion.
Photo by Joe Anuta
Just Saying Hello
Sometimes a little goes a long way, and this is especially true at the garden. Just saying “Hello” in Korean (pronounced annyeonghaseyo) to our fellow Korean gardeners has made a world of difference. The gesture is a display of humility and appreciation for another’s language that transcends any immediate cultural biases and fosters an instant connection. Inspired by this, we believe the newsletter would serve a similar function. Translated in four different languages, the newsletter would allow the gardeners to share common ground, and thus foster connectivity over discord.
Conversations with Gardeners
This initiative has long been a topic on gardener’s minds and leadership has been extremely receptive to the idea. The newsletter would not only capture gardener experiences but also promises to inspire others from the greater Flushing, Queens community to connect with the garden. We see this as an opportunity to compile gardener traditions and bring their unique stories to life. Take for example, Harini, an Evergreen gardener who grows flowers as offerings for her Hindu temple. The garden is an extension of her spiritual faith and her compelling story will be featured in the Spring 2016 newsletter. Through the sharing of our narratives, we can therefore begin to lay the groundwork for a more convivial environment.