Benefits of the Peace Garden
Apart from the obvious memorial significance, the Peace Garden will be a showcase of community involvement and student environmental learning that will help create a cultural shift at Dawson towards the greening of its ethos, building a powerful sense of community and belonging, and give back to native wildlife a section of the urban landscape to increase biodiversity.
The Dawson administration, faculty, support staff and students, will manage the Garden project – a reconnection of people, community and the environment.
Dawson’s heritage lawns are made up of several species of maple, black hickory, basswood, linden and oak trees aged 100 years or more, with grass maintained between them. Although esthetically pleasing, it does not offer much for wildlife. The Peace Garden grounds will introduce hundreds of native herbaceous plants and shrubs to the site. This will, in turn, attract insects, butterflies and birds to the grounds. An increase in the biodiversity of Dawson’s landscape will rise rapidly with the creation of the ecological Peace Garden.
Students, teachers, administrators, custodians, community members and corporate partners will work as a team to reach a common conservation goal. By involving so many members of the academic community, responsibility for success rests with everyone and encourages a feeling of ownership. When program results appear, everyone can share in the accomplishment for having helped lead the way in creating practical, long-term environmental benefits within their school and community. Collaboration builds capacity to reach goals and is an important component of Dawson’s philosophy.
Health & Community Identity
The positive effect on Dawson students and employees while participating in a collective effort of planning, planting and enjoying this natural garden cannot be overestimated. Studies show that implementing a naturalization project increases social interaction that develops new friendships and stronger community ties (Berman, 1996). We also know that an increase in biodiversity heightens the aesthetic and spiritual value of nature for people (Towle, 1996) and that the act of naturalization offers significant benefits to those engaged in restoration (Hartig et al, 1994).
A single hectare of mixed forest can remove up to 15 tons of particulates per year, improving air quality. Trees will increase absorption of CO2 and the Garden will replace the need for motorized lawn maintenance presently being used.
Since 1993, award-winning environmentalist Claude Poudrier, with whom Dawson has had a long association, has developed expertise in citizenship and environmental education based on a 13-step Action Research for Community Problem Solving model that leads participants into responsible action. The process of identifying problems, researching solutions, setting clear goals, developing action plans and using proper evaluation tools is emphasized.
Action Research workshops will be offered to classes and volunteer groups at the college. Students will learn how to form clear goals, focus their energy, achieve results and develop skills to maintain the group for future problem-solving. The many challenges that will face teachers and students in planning a project of this size will can be tackled by using proven Action Research methods.