In dense urban neighborhoods where land is scarce, open space is often called upon to wear multiple hats. In Germantown, the John B. Kelly School yard is undergoing a massive renovation to do just that: be a playground, yes, but also a gathering space for the whole neighborhood. The plan is called
“Our goal is that the Kelly yard become more green and sustainable so that it has a real purpose for the kids that come here," explains Dennis Barneby with the Hansberry Garden and Nature Center
, an organization partnering with the school to transform the yard. "We also want to create a gardening space."
Currently, the site is largely asphalt and underutilized by the school’s 800 students. It's something Barneby has seen firsthand -- the school is only a block away from Hansberry Garden. "It just made sense -- lets look at this space and see how we can use it better for the kids and better for the whole neighborhood," explained Barneby in a recent interview on Northwest Soapbox
initiative was born. Thanks to a planning grant from the Community Design Collaborative
, design professionals and community representatives were enlisted. A design charette process and subsequent meetings led to a workable plan.
Barneby and Hansberry Garden hope the improved school yard will become a place where kids and adults learn how to grow their own food, both in school and during the summer. Ultimately, it’s about creating stewards of land and community.
Now in the fundraising phase, KellyGreen plans to hold a major event this spring. At a minimum, it will involve planting trees and installing raised beds. Some of the planned play equipment could also be installed.
With a successful fundraising push, Barneby hopes KellyGreen will be complete within the next two years.
: Dennis Barneby, Hansberry Garden and Nature Center
: Greg Meckstroth