It's the perfect Portland story: a young artist brings together kids and a homeless community to build a greenhouse out of recycled materials.
Ten middle school kids, most of them from Da Vinci Middle School, have spent six weeks of after-school time, and the beginning of their summer vacation, planning and building a greenhouse for Dignity Village, the permanent homeless encampment in North Portland.
Some residents at Dignity Village have 30 years of construction experience. Residents have supervised the planning and construction of the da Vinci Greenhouse Project according to their needs. The greenhouse is made from recycled materials donated by local organizations such as the Rebuilding Center.
"We really need this greenhouse," said a Dignity Village resident named Marcy, who is also the community's garden coordinator. "Year after year, this will be a great thing to have. Long after I'm gone."
Eleven-year-old Josh is the youngest student on the project, and was painting a stained glass window that will be installed in the greenhouse. His painting depicts people climbing up a vine, a symbol of "transformation, because that's what dignity village is about," he told me. "People think that dignity village is where homeless people go to live. Actually, it's where homeless people go to start over."
The kids learned about the village in conversations with the residents throughout their 6-week workshop. The workshop also included field trips, lessons from visiting artists and projects like designing model greenhouses.
Sneed has plans for another project with DaVinci Middle School next school year.
More pictures below the cut.
- Jordan Mitchell
- Dignity Village resident and Garden Coordinator Marcy supervised the garden plans.
- Artist and project manager Joe Sneed devised the greenhouse project after hearing Dignity Village residents talk about their needs at a community meeting.
- "Transformation, because that's what Dignity Village is all about."