Teaching fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Wilhelmina Peragine, pulled together a team of students, volunteers, city officials and several nonprofits in order to transform two parking spaces in Boston into a small public park with greenery, solar-powered cellphone-charging stations, spots for bicycles and benches. The project is part of a larger initiative entitled The Parkolation Project, which aims to involve special-education students in the process of designing and building small public spaces.
Peragine first got the idea while she was a corps member of Teach For America organization in New Orleans, where she helped get an art program at John Dibert Elementary School off the ground. There, she became increasingly involved with finding ways to integrate disabled and challenged students into their environment and entice their imagination through creative work. She learned that by creating parklets, the students could learn about community, sustainability and the environment.
After completing her degree at Harvard, she pitched the idea to VSA Massachusetts and received positive feedback. Through VSA Massachusetts, Peragine met Anna Golden, a special-education teacher at Boston Green Academy in South Boston, and together they worked to introduce the students to the idea of building unique parklets.
Through their Kickstarter campaign, the team raised more than $15,000 over the course of a month and received additional funding from the Boston Foundation and the Boston Foundation for Architecture. Another $1,000 in donation was solicited by the students. The project also received support by planner Rachel Szakmary, who brought on board the city Water and Sewer Commission and the Department of Public Works.
Boston Architectural College selected the Parkolation Project as a partner for its Gateway Initiative and helped the students to communicate and develop their designs through the use of clay, sketches, Legos and 3D models. The college also provided a space where the team could work and brainstorm ideas.
The new parklet in Boston, located just outside Kenmore-area restaurant Mei Mei, will serves as the venue for workshops on composting and other environmental topics that Peragine hopes to hold in the summer. The structure will be dismantled in November and stored in the school until next year.
Via The Boston Globe
Images via Parkolation Facebook page