2018 Collaboration with the Enright Block Unit, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and lecturer Micah Stanek
The Enright Community Butterfly Garden is a new social and ecological public space made in collaboration with a group of dedicated neighbors in the Lewis Place neighborhood. The Pulitzer Arts Foundation instigated the project and facilitated a conversation about new visions for a vacant lot. Through these conversations, the neighbors in the 4500 block of Enright selected a butterfly garden as a future vision for the site. Lecturer Micah Stanek began working with the community to develop a process to adapt the lot for butterflies and other pollinators, as well as for neighbor use and appreciation.
Before the butterfly garden proposal was developed, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation commissioned Berlin-based architecture collective raumlaborberlin to work in St. Louis. They were interested in the neighborhood and the vacant house on this lot. Neighbors wanted the tornado-damaged house demolished, and raumlaborberlin and the Pulitzer saw an opportunity to look critically at the problem and process of demolitions in the city. Neighbors were already addressing vacancy—residents Elvis Hopson and Richard Butler had long been caring for and mowing many vacant lots on the block. In 2016, raumlaborberlin and collaborators salvaged materials from the house and transformed them into an installation in the Pulitzer’s galleries before being donated to local reuse companies.
Since the effort to transform the 3,750-square-foot-lot into a butterfly garden began in 2017, residents, WashU students, and other volunteers have planted nearly one thousand native plants, wrested weeds, moved earth, and built brick planters and seating on the lot. The native plants selected were preadapted for conditions of the site, and are able to grow in average soil, part-shade, without irrigation. Brick elements invite neighbors into the site to walk, relax, or garden in one of the community planting boxes—where there are no rules about what should be planted.
Students in Stanek’s spring 2018 Research in the Landscape: Methods and Practices course contributed to the development of the proposal through on-the-ground research in the community, including a social survey and onsite environmental analysis. The students’ research proposals responded to specific desires from individual survey responses, as well as the need for clever implementation and maintenance strategies for working with few resources.
The project was completed in fall 2018, and neighborhood stewards have already begun maintaining and enjoying the garden.
- Gephardt Institute for Civic & Community Engagement.
- Metropolitan Sewer District Project Clear.
- CityStudioSTL Faculty Course Grant.