Hammons School of Architecture

Butterfly Gardens and Overlook

May 22, 2013 - News Release from the city of Joplin, MO

TKF Foundation Provides Funding for Butterfly Garden and Overlook at Cunningham Park

Stories of courage, heroism and resilience will be part of a new educational space and healing garden at Cunningham Park, thanks to the TKF Foundation’s Open Spaces Sacred Places initiative. The Foundation’s OSSP fosters natural settings for thepublic in helping them cope with stress and burdens resulting from disasters.

During the second anniversary event of the May 22, 2011 tornado, Traci Sooter, Director of Design/Build programs at Drury, announced that Joplin and New York City will receive a portion of a $585,000 grant for the communities to each create an open space in recovery and healing. A multi-disciplinary research and design team proposed the “Landscapes of Resilience” project that will study the role of open spaces in recovery from both the Joplin 2011 tornado and Superstorm Sandy that hit New YorkCity and surrounding area, killing 72 people and causing extensive damage in October 2012.

Joplin’s Butterfly Garden and Overlook will be located in the northeast section of Cunningham Park, within three lots the City recently purchased following the tornado. Cunningham Park is the City’s oldest park and has hosted many events and gatherings on its grounds through the years. Although destroyed by the tornado, Cunningham Park became the central gathering spot for the City’s daily press briefings and the community gathered together at the Park for the moment of silence one week after thedevastating tornado.

City officials appreciate the work of many in seeking this grant to help the citizens who endured much stress and turmoil after the tornado that killed 161 people and destroyed much of the city’s urban forest, including 116 trees in Cunningham Park.

“Joplin has a story to tell,” said City Manager Mark Rohr. “It’s not just the story of the tornado, but the heroic acts of our citizens and their neighbors took to help themselves and, more importantly, each other. We are a community that has shown much resolve in moving forward in our recovery and healing. This grant from the TKF Foundation will help us create a beautiful setting for all to not only remember, but to refresh and renew themselves after having been through so much. We are thankful for the honor of being selected as part of the Open Spaces Sacred Places initiative.”

The grant provides $200,000 for the construction budget of Joplin’s Butterfly Garden and Overlook. Other budget allocations go toward specific segments of the Landscapes of Resilience project including research efforts for a five-year period, as well as the necessary equipment, documentation and staff resources to implement the project. Travel expenses and construction of an OSSP within the New York City area round out the budget. The NYC site has not been determined as of yet.

The project team for the Butterfly Garden and Overlook includes several organizations who are committed to helping Joplin, and who recognize the healing power that nature can provide. These include Drury University; Cornell University, Civic Ecology Lab; U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station; Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, and Great River Associates. Other organizations will also be involved as the project relates to Superstorm Sandy and the New York City project.

During the anniversary event, students from Drury University were at Cunningham Park gathering stories from those affected by the tornado. These stories and related items could be incorporated into the educational space being developed for the Overlook project.

Established in 1996, the TKF Foundation is a private non-profit that funds publicly accessible urban green space. The Foundation partners with organizations to create Open Spaces Sacred Places that increase a sense of community and contribute to a deepening of human connections.

Butterfly Garden and Overlook
Cunningham Park, Joplin MO
Funded by the TKF Foundation - Open Spaces, Sacred Places Grant
Design by Drury University, Hammons School of Architecture

How was the design conceived?
The design of the Butterfly Garden and Overlook recreates the outline of three homes erased by the 2011 Joplin tornado, provides a pavilion, water features, storyboards, a butterfly garden and four sacred spaceswith benches and journals that provide a space for which to reflect and heal.

The design weaves together four main conceptual design ideas derived from Worden’s four tasks of Mourning with the four elements of every TKF Open Space Sacred Place. These tasks describe the means by which a healthy person works through the pain of grieving for a loved one or something lost, and moves into the next phase of life. Architectural and natural elementssymbolically represent the tasks as a person moves through the gardens.

During the May 22, 2011 tornado over 8,500 homes were erased from the Joplin. The design suggests “penciling in” the outline of 3 homes that were destroyed on the site of the gardens. This metaphorical sketch of the homes responds to Worden’s first task, accepting the reality of the loss and our assignment of that task, the Portal. Visitors will pass through the same locationof what was the portal of the lost home, the front door.

The Path takes the visitor on a journey around the site allowing for Processing the Pain of Grief and promoting reflection.

There are four areas that act as destination along the path and provide a space to Adjust to a World Without the Deceased (or what was lost). All four spaces include benches, a small bubbling water feature and journals, and in addition, the fourth has a water wall tiled with drawings made by local children adding hierarchy to the space and tranquil sound to the experience. All ofthe water features represent the renewal of the community.

Along with eleven native Missouri shade trees and native plantings the unifying circle of the “Butterfly Garden” provides an encompassing sense of boundary, safety and enclosure within the OSSP. At the Overlook, the “outline” of the house also acts as surround; plaques telling the story of the tornado will educate future generations on the destruction, acts of heroism, survival and the Miracle of the Human Spirit while providing an enduring connection to the deceased (or what was lost).We move on but don’t forget.

Why are we collecting your Stories and Photographs?
Your stories and photographs collected here today may be used in the interpretive storyboards at the Butterfly Garden and Overlook. They will also be compiled into an oral history account for theCity of Joplin and may possibly be used in future projects depicting the fateful day of May 22, 2011.

For more information please contact, Traci Sooter, tsooter@drury.edu, Nancy Chikaraishi, nchikaraishi@drury.edu,Peter Meidlinger, pmeidlin@drury.edu

Drury University will be back a second time to collect stories September 7, 2013. Please sign up to receive updates andconfirmation of place and time.

You can also submit your stories by e-mail: joplinstories@drury.edu