New Wetland Grows Peace, Learning – And You Can Help Us Plant

Historic Spring

Water flows from a historic spring to fill the new educational wetland.

If you have visited Common Ground this spring, you know that our site has been undergoing big changes — laying the groundwork for a new school building and other improvements to campus. Every week opens new vistas and new progress: the hill that separated us from the New Haven community removed, stormwater basins dug and filled with spring rains, geothermal wells drilled and covered. These changes are possible because of $2 million in private support, and more than $6 million in public funding, for the Campaign for Common Ground — putting us just $100,000 from our total campaign goal.

This month, we take another big step, as we start to regrow and restore. Common Ground’s landscape architect Mark Papa, soil scientist David Lord, and construction partners have created the basin for a new educational wetland, located beside our production gardens and the future location of our new school building. A new path around the wetland, and the foundations for a boardwalk and observation platform, are already in place.

Next week, Common Ground students will begin to plant more than 100 trees and shrubs, and hundreds of herbaceous wetland plants, in and around the wetland. Students in Common Ground’s Biodiversity class and our Schoolyard Habitat Green Jobs Corps crew are poised to begin this habitat restoration work, having already collected pre-restoration data on bird and insect diversity. Other students have developed rough designs for interpretive exhibits for the wetland, as well.

We would like to invite you to join us as we create this new natural oasis and learning environment on our campus. On Saturday, May 10th, from 9:30 to 12:30, you are welcome to join us for a Community Planting Day on our wetland. Learn more

Remembering Javier, Creating a More Peaceful Community
WR 10-3-13 Renzo and Javi

Javier Martinez and Lorenzo, a fellow Common Ground student, monitor water quality on the West River. Students, staff, and Javier’s family want to create a memorial that celebrates Javier’s love of water, the environment, and all things green and growing.

This wetland has special significance for Common Ground’s students and families. The space will be dedicated to the memory of Javier Martinez, the Common Ground senior lost to gun violence this December. Javier’s classmates are working with landscape architect Mark Papa to design a place that embodies Javier’s love of all things green and growing, and that is a lasting resource for peace and resilience in our city. Last week, they met to discuss how they want the place to feel when it is complete:

“Peaceful – an escape – a place to go when you need quiet, healing”
“A place that commands respect”
“Tranquil, safe”
“A place where people learn”
“Comfortable — a place to feel at home”
“A place that embodies Javier’s strength, courage, friendship, love of the environment, dedication”
“A space for quiet reflection and work”

Over the next month, Common Ground students, staff, and community members will work together to make these ideas a reality. And on Friday, May 23rd, at 11am, we will gather to dedicate this new resource for peace. You are invited to join us. 

A Refuge for People & Wildlife

The most recent plans for the wetland include a memorial seating area for Javier Martinez, planned with input from our students.

Common Ground’s new wetland is part of something bigger in another sense, as well. Common Ground’s site is one link in a growing citywide matrix of urban oases — creating rich habitat for wildlife and people in schoolyards, city parks, neighborhood greenspaces, and front yards across our city. This effort is resulting in one of the nation’s first urban wildlife refuges — officially designated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in fall 2013. To make this big vision possible, Common Ground has partened with Audubon Connecticut, the Long Island Sound Study, the Urban Resources, the City of New Haven, and others. Learn more.

We hope that you will join us in this effort to turn our city into an urban oasis.


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