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Madison Park School Garden Project
Madison Park School Project, January 15, 2007, in collaboration with the Cultural Arts Coalition, coordinated by Melanie Ohm
The Cultural Arts Coalition received a mini-grant, in partnership with Madison Park School, for work on the school’s Diversity Garden. This MLK Day of Service project was funded by The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arizona Celebration Committee, the Governor's Commission on Service and Volunteerism and Make A Difference. This project was a wonderful experience offering an opportunity for our community to gather in such a meaningful way on this day of recognition.
The Madison Park Diversity Garden was envisioned to educate students about environment, agriculture and diverse cultures, and also to involve the community, strengthening the school’s relationships with area businesses and organizations. A significant feature of the completed garden will be a peace pole that is hollow inside to hold the Madison Park community’s written intentions for peace. "May Peace Prevail On Earth" is inscribed on the pole in 12 languages and in Braille. Peace poles remind us to visualize peace in our world, and to pursue it in our dialogue and actions.
On January 15, volunteers of all ages helped by cleaning up the garden area, preparing ground and soil for concrete walkways and planting, attaching handmade tiles to the garden wall and creating additional tiles, laying a watering system and planting flowers. An 11:30 a.m. ceremony by students and other participants honored Martin Luther King’s ideals and presented the plans for the peace pole. Special guests for the day included staff from the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington D.C. and the Arizona Governor’s Office for Community & Youth Development. Additional support for the project was received from Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot’s Office, Floor Associates, Mapei, Basha’s and Duck & Decanter.
The peace pole did not arrive in time for our day of service. After the pole arrives, and the concrete is poured, we will look forward to inviting all of you to Madison Park for a celebration of peace. The story of the peace pole is a great reflection of this amazing school. As I wrote in a letter to the Cultural Arts Coalition:
The peace pole is being paid for by matching funds, half from the MLK Day of Service grant, and half from the committed teachers, staff, and community partners of Madison Park Elementary. The pole will be aluminum and hollow inside to hold the Madison Park community’s written intentions. "May Peace Prevail On Earth" will be inscribed on the pole in a variety of languages. When the teachers and staff realized that they needed more than the eight languages initially identified for the peace pole, Hugo Medina, the art educator overseeing the garden project, asked everyone how we could get funding for a pole with 12 languages. The immediate response from Pam Duty at Madison Park was, "I would like to challenge each of us to donate $10.00 to this project so that the message this particular garden will provide for our students will be a lasting one. If each of us pledged the $10.00 to Hugo by tomorrow, I bet we could knock out this $500+ in no time. Anybody want to join me?" The answer was, "YES!!!"
The staff and teachers – and a community partner - came up with $427.48 for the peace pole within a few days, expressing their investment in this garden and its message for their students and community. Melanie Ohm