The Key to Safe Streets: Five Cities Humanizing Street Design
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden

Brooklyn

NY

USA

Contributed by 
Avigail Thompson
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
May 29, 2002
December 14, 2017

Flower garden and 'quiet zone' created by local volunteers for the Williamsburg and Greenpoint communities.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Green Dome Garden is anything but common - the plant combinations are unusual and of high quality. Small in size (2500 sq. ft) the garden provides a 'big' experience thanks to its creative use of topography, plantings and beautiful masonry. Initially the garden was created with humans in mind, but over time greater attention has been given to providing a beneficial habitat for birds and insect life which coupled with a no poison policy means that the place literally hums. Notes left for the volunteers by the public say it best: "I just spent 30 minutes in heaven", "a true oasis", and "Thanks! looking forward to another beautiful season.".

Access & Linkages

Green Dome Garden in located in McCarren Park (Williamsburg, Brooklyn), and is just a few blocks from both subway and bus stops. This community garden is unique in that it is open daily (from 9 AM till dusk) without an attendant. In order for a public space to be great - you must have access. Green Dome garden is especially popular with people who use McCarren Park regularly; for example joggers, mothers and children, elderly, dog walkers, etc. Green Dome Garden has meandering stone paths which allow people to explore without interrupting another person/family's experience. There are several benches, the most prized being a beautifully crafted dome shaped bench. Overtime the paths have been paved with Belgium blocks to improve access for the elderly, baby carriages and wheelchairs. Alternatively some areas have stepping stone paths which are accessible only by foot.

Comfort & Image

- the place is inviting and designed so well that people FEEL they are getting something of quality. - Since the park is flat, a decision was made to add a diverse topography in Green Dome. The garden includes two mounds children climb, large (11 ton) boulders, a "valley" to further exaggerate the scale. The scale is a thrill for the children. - Different plant habitats are represented including an alpine and woodland area. - equal number of men /women - several stone or wood benches to choose from - More seating has been added in to the shady area on request from the public. - place is clean. Perhaps the only place in the park that is NOT littered by the public. - There is regular maintenance by the volunteers. There is also an 'exchange box' which invites the public to write comments, compliments or requests and announces how one can participate in the project. - Mindful landscaping ensures that no area is completely concealed from the street, making the garden safe. - The garden has public streets on two of its three sides. Parked cars are an unfortunate part of the landscape. But people have told us that the garden feels insulated - a world on to its own.

Uses & Activities

- Use is heavier on the weekends, however there are scores of 'regulars' that visit during the week, some daily. - Activities include: volunteering, gardening, learning (workshops for children), reading, sunning, eating lunch, 'hanging with friends', meditating, painting/drawing, exploring with children, taking naps, playing music, using a lap top (working), bird watching, visiting as part of a walk, and simply "smelling the roses". - All ages. Popular stop for parents and young children. - gender split seems equal. - weekend use includes more groups (3-5). Most visitors are either alone or in groups of 2. - It is a small garden (2500 sq. approx.) and more space is given to plants/insects/birds than humans. Some seating areas are more popular than others, but if they are occupied folks will readily select another.

Sociability

- Its a great place to meet friends because it awakens the senses; beautiful to the eye, nose and touch. It feels private and is constantly changing as the season progresses. - There tend to be more groups on the weekends - People certainly seem to enjoy themselves and interaction in the garden are very positive. - Visitors to Green Dome reflect the diversity in our community: Polish, Latino (mostly Puerto Rican), caucasian (American and European) - It is a point of pride for the volunteers that Green Dome is a popular spot to show to out-of-towners and parents. There is a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church across the street as well.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

We educate the children about plant and animal life in the garden and what they can do to help. Gardens are a great starter for a wide range of important topics such as water conservation, volunteerism, ecosystems etc. We believe that such exchanges are essential if kids are to become environmentally responsible adults. Children who visit the garden are told " the garden is yours" because we believe that a sense of ownership and sharing is a first step in developing civic duty.

Related Links & Sources

Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
Visitors of all ages enjoy Green Dome. Conversations with Felice (pictured here) led the Green Dome volunteers to raise the height of the benches and paving paths so to make access easier and safer.
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
Successful gardens awaken the senses, for example this Casablanca Lily has a powerful - wonderful scent that takes one's breath away.
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
This beautiful masonry by volunteer John Wright celebrates history in our neighborhood, all materials were collected around the neighborhood from old buildings and from under the street.
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
Creating a wonderful habitat is in the details, this bird bath serves the occasional dog or stray cat as well.
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden
Green Dome - A Volunteers Garden

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

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