Storybook Farm: Secret Garden

This garden has been built with hundreds of hands, big and small, across the communities of Storybook:

University and diverse community volunteers, children of all ages, caretakers, retired military, and the amazing gentlemen from Alabama Power. As Co-Director of the Design Team Mobile Studio along with my partner Daniel Neil, we have framed the landscape transformation as a community-based planning, design, building and growing project.

The seed of the garden came from a student on the Committee of 19, Allie, who dreamt of growing fresh healthy food here, for the Storybook family and beyond, raising awareness about global hunger issues and local food insecurity. Talented local builders including Fleming Blackburn, Jesse Dallas, Sage Construction, and Robert of Fix It Auburn, and the tireless efforts of Andrew to coordinate teams of volunteers, have shaped this magical site as you see it today.

The vision is to extend the therapeutic programs and moments of Storybook here, offering a place of respite, of healing, of the delights in the bounties, and living processes of the Garden.

We are pleased to share with you the result of the first six months of planning design and construction, and I’d like to take just a moment to tell you about what is ahead. Please picture in one corner, a pizza oven, here a demonstration backyard compost, a seed starting shelter/green house, an arching entry to the Secret Garden. And in the middle- a protected bench, birdbath, and fruit tree. The next phase includes a fully accessible outdoor classroom with bathroom, storage, and teaching-kitchen.

Over time, with the guidance folks such as: Tia Gonzalez of Auburn’s Medicinal Plant Garden, Jimmy Wright of the Wright’s Market in Opelika, King Braswell and Donna of Blooming Colors, and many more hands, this garden will grow to provide healthy produce, flowers and herbs, stories, and memories while enabling informal and formal gatherings, rest and respite, and special occasion (such as the annual Derby Party).

Your gift today will help Storybook extend their role as a place where peace and hope grow. We hope to see you back in the fall for a pizza oven workshop and/or to read to children in the garden, or to harvest a first tomato, or host a garden soiree.

Mobile Studio SF: Comfort Women Memorial

With Grandma Lee

Many memorials honor the courage, bravery, and sacrifice of soldiers during wartime.     Few, if any, honor women. This memorial is in honor of the 300,000+ women and young girls from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other countries of Japanese occupation, who suffered human trafficking and sexual slavery as ‘Comfort Women’ by the Japanese Imperial Military during World War II. Their violent exploitation and abuse was a crime of war, and their courage to speak out has changed the Human Rights and Justice landscape around the world forever.

In San Francisco, the “Comfort Women’ Justice Coalition,” led by the indomitable, retired Judges, Julie Tang and Lillian Sing (seen above with Grandmother Lee) has written a resolution, now approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, to build a Memorial to the ‘Comfort Women’ in this capital city of freedom. Mobile Studio, as project managers, will be running an international design competition and call for artists proposals. The competition, which will be launched in the upcoming weeks, seeks visions for the selected site in St. Mary’s Square Park that address the desire to honor and remember those who have suffered, to commemorate their courage and bravery, to inspire a commitment to truth telling, and to fighting for the safety and equality of women and children around the world.

Memory, Dialogue, Peace and Reconciliation, Transformation, Resistance and Justice. The memorial will offer a place for community members and visitors to remember, grieve, learn, find peace, and commit themselves to human rights. The work of bringing justice to the Japanese Government regarding this violation of human rights is yet unfinished. Denialism is not acceptable. Token gestures are not enough. All nations that profit from denialism are implicit. This addition of public art into the City of San Francisco at the crossroads of Chinatown and the Financial District will serve as a touchstone of memory, a beacon of hope, and a call to action for years to come.