22 Blocks of Urban Improvement
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2012, I had the great pleasure to work for a non-profit in the historic 5rd ward neighborhood of Houston to design and implement urban improvement strategies including community gardens, street signage, wayfinding, art installations, playgrounds, home repairs, empty lot clean up, and overall community planning. I was able to work with the community to learn what their struggles were and use design to bring about some change. I value this because I not only worked through the design but was also a key figure in the construction of the project. Thousands of Starbucks volunteers were flown into Houston over a weekend to help realize the project. My primary role was in the design, volunteer organization, and construction of the urban gardens across the project. The largest of the three gardens was Cane River Gardens in the middle of Lyons Avenue. By the end of the weekend, we delivered twenty-two blocks of neighborhood redevelopment across Lyons Avenue.
The project was created for the Fifth Ward Community Redevlopment Corporation (FWCRC). Gensler was the architect and designer. Starbucks was the philanthropist who provided the opportunity, funding, and volunteers as part of a ‘giving back’ initiative they do every four years. The project was a $22 million dollar investment into the community.
Houston Metro Veggie Gardening Calendar
One of my favorite parts about this project was creating this planting schedule for the gardens. It is based on Bob Randalls book Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston. The calendar not only provides info on when to plant and harvest but also how to accommodate different plants in a raised bed garden.