Cleveland, OH —The Ohio Colombian Foundation (OCF) is proud to announce that the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) has approved its status as a sponsoring organization for a new garden representing Colombia. At the CCGF executive board meeting on Jan. 21, 2019, the organization also assigned a plot on the east side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive that will be the future site of the Colombia Garden.
Located in the 254-acre Rockefeller Park, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens stretch along a two-mile section of MLK Boulevard between University Circle and Lake Erie. The gardens, which were conceived in 1916 with the establishment of the British Garden, now contain more than 30 distinct spaces representing countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
At this time, no Latin American country is represented in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The Ohio Colombian aims to change the landscape of the gardens and plant the seed for more Latino communities to flourish in years to come.
“It’s the dream of our organization to see the Colombia Garden come to fruition,” says Ivan Cerquera, Vice President of the Ohio Colombian Foundation. “With hard work, and support from the community, we will accomplish this goal. It’s about time Latin America gets representation along MLK.”
Now that approval for the garden has come from the CCGF, the Ohio Colombian Foundation can go forward with plans for designing a garden. To achieve that end, the OCF has partnered with Kent State University’s College of Architecture & Environmental Design to develop a landscape design project brief that includes maps, drawings and 3D models for the Colombian Garden. Cathy Soergel Marshall, associate professor of Landscape Architecture, will lead a team of four Master’s students in the Landscape Architecture Program to develop concepts that best reflect Colombia’s cultural traditions and contributions, while also meeting the needs of the degree program.
“The goal is for the students to understand the design principles of the existing Cleveland Cultural Gardens, while also looking at garden spaces from Colombia,” Marshall explains. “Inspired by Colombian garden design forms, the students will create various landscape architectural design scenarios that can work sustainably in Cleveland.”
Students Elliot Killen, (MLA ’19), Katherine Kelleher (MLA ’19), Maci Nelson (MLA ’20) and Chad Boston, (MLA ’21) will travel to Medellín, Colombia, to conduct research for the project. They are expected to tour some of the city’s culturally significant sites, including the Parque Arvi, the Plaza Botero, the Jardín Botanico de Medellín and Pueblito Paisa.
Each student is expected to produce three designs for the Colombian Garden each that they will present during KSU’s exam week May 6-12. The research is expected to aide a professional landscape architecture firm in generating detailed design and construction documentation for the Colombian Garden. The firm has yet to be selected.
“The Ohio Colombian Foundation is thrilled to be able to work with the students at KSU,” says Cerquera. “We will all learn something about urban landscape design in the process.”
In the meantime, the Ohio Colombian Foundation continues to raise funds for the Colombian Garden with the help of grants, corporate sponsorships and donations from individuals. Anyone interested in making a contribution are encouraged to visit OhioColombianFoundation.org and click on the donate button.
The development of a cultural garden is a long process that involves approvals from both the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation and the several departments within the city of Cleveland, including Parks and Recreation, the Division of Property Management and the Office of Government Affairs, explains Lori Ashyk, CCGF’s executive director.
Besides the Colombian Garden, other garden projects are currently in the development stages, include those representing Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Pakistani, Korean, Turkish and Native American heritage.
Historically, Cleveland’s waves of immigration have contributed to the economic prosperity and rich culture of the city. Immigrants are twice as likely as native-born citizens to become entrepreneurs and 30.4 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in Ohio were founded by immigrants or their children, according to a 2017 impact study by the Partnership for a New Economy.
There’s no better way to celebrate Cleveland’s immigrants than by establishing a place among the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The region is home to 120 distinct cultural groups, but only a quarter of them are represented in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Ohio Colombian Foundation is ready and motivated to move the needle in a positive direction.
We thank everyone who helped us to accomplish the first step of this project, The Colombian Garden at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
Molto Bene Italian Restaurant, Petittis Garden, Laura Watilo & Family, Mr. William Gruber, Estith Bonilla & Family, Sara Zielinski & Family, Maria Estrella & Family, Rosa Briola & Family, Tiffany Wlliams Pachon & Family, Klopp’s, Family, Sullivan’s Family, Mariana Blanco, David Silva and Ivan Cerquera