If the medium is the message, then a whole forest of possibilities was the main argument for going ‘Wild’ at The Link this past Sunday.
But that’s a good thing, because members of the public were invited to the official unveiling of the fruits of a $250,000 ReWilding concept sowed last year for The Link's outdoor space Sept. 4.
What was once a desolate asphalt field, now “honours the bravery and courage” of the individuals who will use the social service agencies housed at The Link to transform their lives, ReWilding Lake Simcoe’s Anna Currier said.
“The transformation of this site communicates that you don’t have to tear up your entire life to change, you can plant new seeds and, out of the barrenness, comes new life.”
Offering a unique opportunity for changing the concrete former playground jungle at a tenth of the cost of “depaving” and resurfacing that could have cost over $1 million, the exterior space instead was created to allow for multi-faceted programming, while offering the energy of true and ongoing change, Currier explained.
That “forest of opportunities” was achieved via the planting of three types of trees, coloured grasses and herbs, all of which blossom at different times of the year. Below the surface of each planting area is a storm water infiltration system filtering runoff into the Black River.
ReWilding Lake Simcoe is a four-year initiative spawned from a successful two-year pilot aimed at helping Lake Simcoe while enriching people's lives.
Bolstered by an umbrella $1.6 million in funding from academic and community partners, Environment Canada kickstarted the program to meet the priorities of the Lake Simcoe/South-eastern Georgian Bay Clean-Up Fund (LSGBCUF).
Thanks to the ReWilding program and its infusion of innovation, greenery and cash, the new forest of possibilities at The Link will provide for a multiplicity of programming, Currier said.
The second ReWild project at The Link is the community garden.
Not only will it serve one of The Link’s core tenants – the Georgina Community Food Pantry – but its location was chosen for stormwater management purposes.
“The garden, designed like a clock, has various radii that allow for different planting styles and the message to reclaim time,” Currier said.
A gazebo from Hospice Georgina is planned for the centre, with the other half of the garden being constructed by community members next year.
Sunday’s event unveiled the vision tenants and community members helped shape through public consultations last year regarding reinventing, repurposing and maximizing the enjoyment of the outdoor space, Currier added.
Providing visitors the opportunity to “make their mark on the space” through fun and interactive events Sunday such as best life croquet, ReWild postcards and garden jewelry making contributes to an important sense of stewardship of the space, Currier said.
It prompts and inspires participants to reflect on what the space means to them, as well as imagine new uses of the space, she added.
It also reinforces the need to connect what is happening on the land with what happens to the Black River and Lake Simcoe.