The historic Gold Coast neighborhood included a visit to the Central Community Circle garden Saturday in the special garden tour event they sponsored. In contrast to the gentrifying Gold Coast glory located just a few streets east, the CCC inner city neighborhood has struggled hard to restore a sense of order to the crime-ridden streets it experienced just a decade ago.
It takes continual vigilance to maintain the peace that now characterizes the CCC neighborhood, says Marilyn Schierbrock, CHM, the neighborhood advocate. And, initially, it required many strategies to achieve it.
One of those strategies was gardening.
The garden revived in 2000 when neighbors teamed up with volunteers to address the drive-by shootings of drug dealing gangs who overtook an area of declining economic status in the city, just west of the downtown, mere blocks from the edifices housing city and county officials. Landscaping and beautification could make the neighborhood more pleasant in appearance...augmenting real estate value, they reasoned.
The community garden created a public space for CCC neighbors, friends and families to gather. They committed themselves to raise healthy, organic food. Flowers graced the space with their loveliness. The power of community working together toward health and dignity was transformative.
"The hallmarks of the Central Community Circle Neighborhood are 'presence, openness, and cooperation,'" asserts Sister Marilyn, who has served as a convener and facilitator in the area since 1999.
And the garden?
"The garden continues to serve as a living testimony to the power we can claim when we work together toward peace. It stands amidst homes that still hold the bullet holes from those drive-by shooting days."
Saturday's visitors were impressed with what they saw growing: food, flowers, and peace.
Photo montage captions (click photo to enlarge):
Center: The program for The Gold Coast and Hamburg Historic District Association garden tour, Gold Coast Blooms.
Top row, left to right
1) Participating gardeners share their surplus produce at the neighborhood food pantry, also managed by Sister Marilyn.
2) Sister Marilyn's perennial flowers bloom in her "Peace Plot."
3) The sign clearly demarcates Central Community Circle's garden that participates in The Garden Growers cooperative, a city program that operates from the ISU County Extension office.
4) Garden produce--here tomatoes--are grown organically in this garden. The soil is tilled annually and tested regularly.
Bottom row, left to right
1) Tassled decorative purple popcorn stalks serve as a centerpiece to the lower garden. The CCC Garden includes several plots, two of which are raised bed frames.
2-3) Two of the groups that participated in Saturday's tour. Organizers estimated they hosted 125 visitors at the CCC garden.
4) Corporal Andrew Harris of the Davenport's N.E.T.S. Unit (left) and Sister Marilyn work together to help neighbors better engage the local law enforcement's assistance in addressing local crime incidence, focusing on prevention.