ESTABLISHED IN MAY 2017
In 2015 residents of Marble Hill Houses, a NYCHA complex in the Northwest Bronx, started working with Juanli Carrión and Jacki Fischer with the goal of establishing the first OSS permanent garden. The garden was planted in May 2017 with 11 beds designed with the shape of the buildings’ blueprint representing each of the towers of Marble Hill Houses with plants selected by residents. The community decided to address health and food literacy, while celebrating their cultural heritage.
Intensive hipper-local public outreach was carried knocking on all the doors of the 1684 apartments to inform and invite Marble Hill Houses’ residents to participate in the garden. The engagement of the new members was carried by giving them the platform of expression through in person interviews and linking them culturally with the plants in the garden.
This living sculpture now operates as a community garden, and also serves as a centerpiece to articulate public programming that further discusses health at many levels, cultural identity and community building, engaging with the local community, an essential asset with which we develop new, long-lasting relationships with residents, institutions and community groups.
ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
Marble Hill Houses is a NYCHA complex located in the Northwest Bronx, some of the buildings of the development belong to Manhattan, which creates a unique political reality for its constituents. The demographics of the area are predominantly Hispanic, Caribbean and African-American.
Even if the area is flooded with big box stores and malls, it remains to be a food desert where the healthy options available are not accessible to the income of its residents. This is partially due to its proximity to one of the richest neighborhoods in the Bronx, Riverdale, located on the top of the so called hill.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Juanli Carrión is an artist, researcher and activist whose work over the past decade has unfolded in the research, development and education of community engaged design and artistic practices with an emphasis on social and environmental justice. He is currently expanding his practice beyond the art/design realm to work that becomes policies, non-profit organizations, associations, groups, or other sustainable social or political structures with the aim of translating the results into pedagogical and community strategies.