El Futuro collaborated with Tuscaloosa-Lakewood to complete components of a large-scale therapeutic garden and play space project. A neighborhood survey was conducted that centered immigrant experiences and went beyond aesthetic preferences to identify elements that would foster healing, celebration of identity and mental wellness. The survey resulted in 131 responses ( 71 English-speaking; 60 Spanish speaking) and confirmed that the space is highly utilized and valued by the community.
Based on the results of this survey, a terraced garden was created that will act as an urban foraging site and a sensory garden path as a place to find peace and groundedness is coming soon. Additionally, more community events are being hosted in the space. Throughout the summer and fall El Futuro hosted, 2 Kermes (a traditional Mexican celebration similar to a carnival); one Neighborhood Night Out; a book reading and discussion with a well-known Spanish-language author; and several volunteer engagement opportunities.
Throughout all components of this project local Latino families were kept at the center of activities making an intentional effort to break cultural and language barriers, seek inclusivity of all neighborhood residents, and to empower those that often face “othering” and racism to be the leaders and engineers of a meaningful space for all neighbors.
This project was funded during FY 2021.