R2G in Action

Public Parks and Greenspace

One World Garden Project Overview

In the past 30 years, Utica has been host to more than 13,000 refugees. In addition to attracting national and international attention, this phenomenon has established Oneida County as having the fourth highest concentration of refugees in the U.S. Comprising nearly 12% of the city of Utica's population; displaced persons have been resettled to the area by The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR). The center promotes the well-being of culturally diverse individuals and families within Utica by welcoming new neighbors, refugees and immigrants, and by providing community-centered activities designed to create opportunity and facilitate understanding. Adding to the means by which Utica's growing refugee community has stimulated the city's growth, MVRCR partnered with R2G in an effort to identify public land development projects in the vicinity of the center's downtown location.

A 2012 OSSP (Open Spaces Sacred Places) planning Grant Awarded to Utica's MVRCR is the first step in the unfolding process of conceiving and ultimately realizing Utica's ONE WORLD GARDEN. Early in 2012 the One world Garden Interdisciplinary design and research planning team set to work to develop the garden's design as well as a long range research plan aimed at studying and evaluating the garden's impact, once built, on both it's users and urban context.

One world garden's half-acre site is currently a treeless, vacant lot on the corner of Park Avenue and South Streets. The location acts as an urban "divide" where people perceive Genesee Street as safe, active and inviting and Park Avenue as dilapidated, abandoned and dangerous. Our hope is that One World Garden, linking both streets, will play a key role in erasing that divide by bringing and fostering new life- social, environmental and economic-around and beyond it.

During the initial Spring 2012 Visioning Phase, the design planning team hosted one major community interaction and two subsequent design-visioning sessions attended by design team members and invited community partners. Additionally, a pre-design survey was administered at MVRCR. The team has designed the garden to include specific elements that will be realized through ongoing community engagement and participation by local artists, cultural groups and citizens young and old.

Project Goals

  • During the initial Spring 2012 Visioning Phase, the design planning team hosted one major community interaction and two subsequent design-visioning sessions attended by design team members and invited community partners. Additionally, a pre-design survey was administered at MVRCR. The team has designed the garden to include specific elements that will be realized through ongoing community engagement and participation by local artists, cultural groups and citizens young and old.
  • Increase availability of community green space to a diverse user group.
  • Increase opportunities for community use and sociability.
  • Provide green park space for respite and renewal by urban users, especially Utica's refugee population and those living in adjacent neighborhoods.

Partners

  • Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees
  • Resource Center for Independent Living
  • TKF Foundation
  • SUNY Empire College
  • MWPratt
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County
  • City of Utica
  • Ringling College of Art

In the summer of 2011 R2G Civic Research Felllows redesigned and rebuilt Liberty Bell Park. This public space, adjacent to the historic Hotel Utica as well as a heavily used bus stop is now an inviting, restful area in the heart of the city.

Today, Kempble Park in Utica's Cornhill neighborhood is a two acre vacant lot surrounded by a chain link fence. This high potential parcel will soon be transformedintoa beautiful, multi-functional community gathring space in the form of a new park.

One World Garden is a project that emerged from the a partnership between R2G and the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. Early in 2012 the One World Garden indersciplinary design and research planing team set out to develop the garden's design as well as a long term research plan aimed at evaluating garden's impact, once built, on both it's users and the urban context.

In the Oneida Square neighborhood the City of Utica undertook its first large scale implementation of its new community generated Master Plan. This project is known as the Oneida Square Roundabout. Rust to Green assisted the City of Utica and NYS DOT in the summer of 2011 as the Roundabout underwent construction. Rust to Green faculty and interns were able to adapt the proposed streetscape plans so that they could create significantly more green space while reducing project costs.