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Project Update: Delridge Wetlands

A wetland is a habitat of rich biodiversity. A neighborhood is a habitat of rich cultural diversity. What happens when a neighborhood has the opportunity to restore a wetland and integrate it into the surrounding community? Pomegranate Center has been working to discover that answer all year through our collaboration with the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) on the Delridge Wetlands.

DNDA is serving a leadership role, garnering community support and bringing on board Pomegranate Center, along with, Gaynor Inc., and Outdoor Classroom Design, for the design, technical, and building work. Visioning and design is currently taking place, with work parties planned for the fall.

The project’s design team has been busy this week with a whirlwind of activity: on Monday night, we hosted a community meeting where participants envisioned what they want the site to be; Tuesday was an all day design workshop; and tonight’s open house will give the team the opportunity to present their designs to the larger community and solicit feedback. A key factor of this project, as with all of our community design work, is momentum: crafting a process that incorporates meetings, a design workshop, an open house, and an Early Success within a succinct schedule so as not to lose community enthusiasm and participation.

“The project is important for a number of reasons: ecologically, just being connected to Longfellow Creek and Delridge being a place where people can affect where they live. From an education standpoint, it’s a place where students can come and do hands-on, project-based learning, a place that students can help grow and have ownership over. It’s also a community gem in an area that could really use more community gems,” Nicholas Poccia, Community Connector at DNDA, says of the project.

One of the primary goals for this project is to create a unique and powerful educational resource. Our partner, Jason Medeiros of Outdoor Classroom Design, has engaged one hundred 3rd and 5th grade students at Louisa Boren STEM K-8 (just one block away) in wetland science projects and site design activities. Student excitement about their designs and their learning about the wetland was shared on May 25th as part of the heavily attended STEM Project Based Learning Night. This work helped generate investment and energy from the school community in the Delridge Wetland project, and modeled how the space could be used for rigorous science curriculum. As a capstone, Jason organized an “Educator’s Charrette” with teachers and professionals from nearby schools and agencies; generating design strategies for ongoing classroom and community education at the Delridge Wetland.

“DNDA is working to create a lasting, beautiful, and environmentally responsible community asset that will enhance the Delridge community for the the long term. Our project connects people to art, to nature, and to one another,” adds Willard Brown, Director of Housing and Environmental Programs at DNDA.

Beyond a wetland, what else can this site become? The design team is working to incorporate urban agriculture demonstration, a gathering place, edible landscaping, and more. The goal is to create a pilot project that not only protects the wetland, but elevates its importance as a place for children and adults, both for education and sanctuary.