ELSEE Garden, A Magical Place!

Welcome to CNGF Together! As a fairly new volunteer with California Native Garden Foundation, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the Foundation’s work with my community of San Jose and surrounding areas, the ancestral lands of the Ohlone Native American people. In the short time I’ve been an active CNGF volunteer, I’ve observed that the key element that powers this organization is the energy of the many people who come together to work toward “rewilding” the urban areas they call home.

Much scientific research lies beneath the success CNGF has had in designing, building and maintaining gardens that restore the natural balance of the land, air and water. While this blog is likely to feature successful CNGF collaborations with their researched scientific underpinnings, this is not necessarily the place to learn about the science. For that, I direct you to CNGF.org and encourage you to contact Executive Director Alrie Middlebrook.

This space is dedicated to documenting the people of CNGF and their partners and collaborators. It is designed to make visible their energy, diversity, creativity, curiosity, determination, and persistence.

It is said that if we are to reverse the unhealthy course that this planet is on, to stop climate change in its tracks, we must do so together with our respective communities. CNGF offers a model of what that collaborative effort looks like on a community level. And the people of CNGF illustrate the many other challenges of modern culture that can be overcome simultaneously (e.g., drought, unemployment, feelings of alienation/anxiety, malnutrition/obesity).

I’d like to begin this blog the way I began my relationship with CNGF, by taking you inside the original ELSEE garden (see above). ELSEE, an acronym for Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability and Ecological Education, stands at 76 Race Street, San Jose. During its open hours, it serves as a piazza or community center, welcoming all parties interested in learning about its educational and sustainability goals. Every inch of it is intentionally designed to be a place where people can come together and pool their energy toward creating a more sustainable way of life. As a proponent of outdoor learning for children, my jaw dropped when I first entered, and the only words I could find were “A magical place!”

This blog seeks to be the forum where we reflect together on the learning CNGF has done together with partners/collaborators, and on how the CNGF family continues to grow to include ever-more people, of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, cultures, abilities, socio-economic brackets, and interests. This blog also seeks to be a window into the many ways each of us can build a healthier relationship with our earth. CNGF beckons to everyone in the community, “enter…grow…eat…learn… TOGETHER.”