Guest Post: The Digital Garden on Leetsdale

March 25, 2010

This guest post comes our way via WGY ally Leo Kacenjar, a DU graduate student developing a community garden that will be informed in equal measures by digital media and permaculture. If you’re intrigued by the concepts he presents, be sure to check out one of the upcoming events listed at the bottom, or visit digitalgardenleetsdale.com.

Human environmental interaction, public health and accessibility of technology are some of the most formidable social problems of the twenty-first century. Community gardens and metropolitan agriculture initiatives lower the rate at which food and supplies must be introduced into a city, provide an abundance of nourishing produce, and empower individuals to become engaged citizens.

The last two decades have also ushered in the creation of faster, lighter, more agile, ever connected, and cheaper technologies. Digital media offer the possibility for new realms of public discourse and participation. To optimistically read these changes, posits new realms of digital democratic public dialogue. Despite technologies’ reduction in price, not everyone can afford them. In addition, our nascent digital devices are worthless without ubiquitous connectivity, or the necessary media literacy to effectively and critically engage with media. The result of the digital divide is a discourse, which has not reached its full potential.

The Digital Garden on Leetsdale is an experimental space that works to combine the positive environmental and individually empowering effects of a community garden with the discursive potential of digital media. The goal will be that digital installations like a wireless hub, computing lab, online communal space (content management system) and various thematic digital art pieces, in combination with a working sustainability park and community garden, will bolster dialogue. Sustainable structures, serving as common area and storage will be functional testaments to environmentally friendly building techniques. The conversational potential of this juxtaposition promises to be beneficial and unique. Topics like sustainable design, networked civic engagement, and urban reclamation will all arise in context of the green space.

The project will work with Kinda Collective – a Denver area artists’ collective – and their immediate community to build a teeming collaborative gardening environment that is informed by the digital media. The gardens will improve the urban environment, provide fresh, locally grown foods, bring the diverse groups of the neighborhood together, and empower its participants.

In combination with this person-to-person and environmental interaction, the digital media will grant anyone opportunities to bridge the site-specific conversations into the digital realm, where greater human/environmental themes might be discussed. The free connectivity, computers, and literacy training through on-site classes and the community website will ensure that no one is left out of the dialogue. The digital art installations will pose questions about human-environmental interaction, though sensorial experiences.

The space will also work to demonstrate alternative lifestyle, building, and food production practices to the community by example. The weekly gardening routine and exposure to the space will suggest a lifestyle symbiotically connected to the environment. The straw bale buildings and construction workshops will teach beneficial home sustainability tactics. The permaculture-steeped community gardens will inform the community about new modalities of agriculture.

Free programming throughout the life of the project will include topics like gardening, sustainable living, environmental, community organizing, digital art, and technological literacy. These elements will make the sustainability park a thriving and vital community resource.

The Digital Garden on Leetsdale has two events coming up that are free and open to the public:

Community Meeting

March 31st 2010, 7pm

4500 Leetsdale

Join us for a community meeting to learn more about the space, discuss what you could get out of the garden and what’s at stake for the local community. Garden plot and permaculture guild applications will be available. There will also be free dinner.

Sheet Mulching Workshop

April 10th 2010, 10am

4500 Leetsdale

Learn the basics of sheet mulching first hand as we prepare the Digital Garden for planting. We will transition the workshop into a potluck BBQ and lawn games as the day progresses.

For more information, visit digitalgardenleetsdale.com.

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