For time immemorial gardens have served as spaces for rest, reflection, and communion with the natural world. But in today’s political climate, with its heightened confrontations of longstanding structural and historical inequality and racism, some gardens—created by and for Black communities—are now serving another, even more necessary and vital purpose: as valuable, active hubs for addressing certain imbalances and injustices, connecting with neighbors, and fostering community. As garden designer and landscape ethicist Benjamin Vogt has written, “Ultimately, every garden is an ideology.”
That statement rings true for a number of garden-focused initiatives created with Black healing in mind. One such project is Pine House Edible Gardens, a landscape design/build firm in Oakland, California, that focuses on combining native, ornamental plants with food-producing ones, resulting in dynamic spaces that feed the eye, stomach, and soul. Founded by landscape designer Leslie Bennet—a former World Health Organization staffer with a background in environmental justice, land-use law, and cultural property and preservation—the organization believes that everyone deserves access to gardens and space to grow them, and that the emotional benefits of engaging with gardens can provide useful insights for creating a more equitable society.
For clients in the Bay Area, the company’s services include creating and maintaining site-specific green spaces as well as floral arranging, beekeeping, and helping to preserve seasonal harvests by pickling, canning, or transforming them into jellies and jams. It routes portions of every fee received to its Black Sanctuary Gardens project, in which Bennet and her team create gardens for Black women and Black communities in and around Oakland. The result? Serene sanctuaries that double as vital Black gathering spaces. In the midst of gentrification and displacement of the area’s historically Black neighborhoods, it’s a particularly important effort.
The impulse to restore and support community is also behind New York–based artist Kevin Beasley’s ongoing flora-focused 1741 Forstall Street project in the predominantly Black Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. It began as a commission from the Prospect New Orleans art triennial, which invited Beasley to create a temporary work in the city; Beasley used the funds, along with some of his own, to buy a plot of overgrown land in the neighborhood, clear it, and plant a public garden that opened earlier this year with a cookout. (The neighborhood was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and now has a poverty rate of more than 30 percent.) Beasley also installed a utility pole with functional LED lights and Wi-Fi—the only hotspot in the area—and devised places, such as pebbled pathways and grassy knolls, for people to meet and play. Eventually, the garden’s plants and fruit trees will provide fresh food for community use.
While Beasley had never been to the city before beginning the project, its ambitions resonate with his larger body of work, which explores ideas around Blackness, memory, and cultural and material histories. The artist has hired a local landscaping firm to maintain the property, and plans to regularly visit to interact with the locals and those who use it. In an interview about the garden earlier this year, Beasley expressed wanting it to “fold into the current,” making the space a vibrant part of an area that has long been underserved by city, state, and federal governments.
In London’s Kensington Gardens (through Oct. 16), this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, called “Black Chapel” and designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates with architectural support from Adjaye Associates, demonstrates how spaces within gardens can facilitate essential encounters and community engagement. The structure itself draws on a kaleidoscope of sources: the bottle-shaped kilns of England’s Stoke-on-Trent, where numerous such ovens fill its industrial landscape; the beehive-shaped kilns of the Western United States; the round chapels of Rome’s San Pietro church; Roman tempiettos, or small circular temples; and traditional African architectural structures, including Cameroon’s Musgum mud huts and Uganda’s Kasubi Tombs. Ring shouts, voodoo circles, and the circular formations seen in several Afro-Brazilian dance forms also helped inform the building’s tall, cylindrical shape.
Conceived as a space for gathering and meditation, the pavilion features a suite of new tar paintings that Gates made using roofing techniques such as “torch down,” which involves using an open flame to heat and attach material to a surface. It’s a reference to his father, who worked as a roofer, and a nod toward the act of social transformation. A series of live events featuring artists, musicians, dancers, and poets will further animate the space through the summer and early fall, including a performance by the Choir of the London Oratory (Aug. 13, 3-4:30 p.m.). The ringing of a bronze bell, salvaged from a Catholic church on Chicago’s South Side and placed at the entrance of the space, signals the start of each presentation. “‘Black Chapel’ suggests that, in these times, there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude,” Gates said in a statement. “I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and deep participation.”
Gates’s project, as well as Beasley’s and Bennet’s, tap into a distinct and all-too-rare type of restoration that gardens can provide. For Black communities in particular, these spaces serve as quiet, humble reminders that humanity is part of a resilient network full of life. Within them, among the silence, the music, or the gentle rustle of plants, visitors can experience a version of space and time dedicated to wholeness.
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A Digital Museum Tells Time-Honored Stories of the Indian Subcontinent Through Everyday Objects and Family Heirlooms
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Those who have come to embrace CBD—short for cannabidiol, a chemical abundant in the cannabis plant that, unlike its sibEpidiolex, to treat rare seizure disorders; the majority of scientific studies on the chemical have been conducted on animals.) T$16 billion by 2025, fueled by users who report relief from afflictions including anxiety, depression, and stress. So it seems only natural
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A Fashion Designer Transforms Deadstock Textiles and Upcycled Sleeping Bags Into Wearable Life-Saving Shelters
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Elyn Zimmerman Created a Memorial to the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing—Then It Was Destroyed on 9/11
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East Fork imbues traditional clay tableware with a sense of delight, resulting in pieces that are instantly recognizable. The commonth)—while its expansion into the lifestyle realm, with online recipes and carefully culled pantry items, such as black gar Your products often immediately sell out. A few months ago, an article in the New York Post called your passionate fans the “new potheads.” What makes East Fork’s pieces so covetable?
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Wood boxes are something of a national treasure in Japan, where Buddhist monks began tucking stoles, prayer beads, and okiribako—boxes handcrafted from paulownia, a native tree with lightweight, durable, water-resistant timber—into the mainstream. Masuda Kiribako, which has been skillfully producing traditional receptacles since 1929.
Three years ago, French furniture and object designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance—whose clients include Baccarat, Bernhardt Made in Situ that champions the traditional crafts, techniques, and materials of the region through objects he designs and makes witsoenga. How did the idea for Made in Situ come about?
Imagine shopping a trove of objects that are at once elegant and ethically made—no post-purchase consumer guilt necessarGoodee, an online marketplace of homewares and clothing that make a positive impact on people and the planet. Founded by Montrundulating Pakurigo baskets handwoven by artisans in Ghana from locally sourced vetiver grass, vegan seaweed soap that cleverly uses coriander seeds and peppercorns as exfoliants, and the sought-after Goodee Hoodie, recently released in three new colors (dusty rose, Egyptian blue, and alabaster) and made from Egyptian cotton by the Kotn. There’s also a handsome German Douglas pine daybed from Danish B Corp Skagerak, topped with Kvadrat upholstery, and a Japanese windmill palm fiber “corner brush” designed to dust the undustable. Feel like decking the halls? Try these multihued Jipi Baubles tree ornaments, handmade from Jipijapa palm tree leaves by Colombian artisans in the Andes. For those on our gift lists, including the
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Wonder Valley’s hinoki body oil—a cult favorite among beauty and wellness bloggers—is formulated around a simple moisturizer that’s been embraced by va
There are roughly 2,000 species of cacti found around the world. The speciality plant store Hot Cactus, run by a collective of creatives in Los Angeles, stocks some of the rarest breeds online and at its shoebox brick-and-Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia), is made expressly with the elongated napiform root of peyote in mind. For $70, you can nab one of Morris’s Peyote Pot grow kits: Each comes with four seeds so you can germinate your own Lophophora fricii, a cactus species that’s native to Mexico and commonly referred to as “false peyote.” That is—sorry to disappoint you—n
By now, it’s a well-known fact that the multi-trillion-dollar fashion and apparel industry ranks as a top polluter world10 percent of annual global carbon emissions. It is also the third-largest consumer of the planet’s water supply—exceeded only by the oil and paper industries—and is set to double its consumption rate by 2030. Much of this water is Living Colour, the duo experiment with pigment-producing bacteria as a sustainable alternative to artificial textile dyes, which are Design to Fade, the very first bacterial-dyed sportswear collection. “We see it as a collaboration with the organism,” Luchtman says,
Japanese culture is known worldwide for its meticulous approach to hospitality—and, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, thTokyo Toilet project invited 16 world-class designers to rethink this humble, often overlooked, piece of public infrastructure.