Let it grow! Children and seniors in project ‘En-rooters’
Jekaterina Stakle and Anna Žabicka from association ‘Culture Communication Platform’ promote this friendship and collaboration project of design students of Art Academy of Latvia (AAL) and Department of Social Anthropology of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU). But it centers on senior clients of social care center ‘Ezerkrasti’ and pupils of Riga 6th Secondary School of grade 2 and 3.
Summarily, the pilot project involves about 10 children of early school age and 10 senior citizens. They have been selected by the very simple principle of their interest in gardening and gardening-related matters.
Now, the first stage of the project is almost completed. On Wednesday, May 28th, offered a tiny excursion combined with sincere work, schoolchildren visited the seniors in their home – social care center ‘Ezerkrasti’ to finish the mobile garden-beds and to plant the seedlings, which had been sewn and tended in advance. From now on, the mobile, elevated garden-beds will adorn the courtyard terrace of care center.
On Saturday, 1st of June, the season’s conclusive ‘En-rooters’ workshop will take place, given by ‘Skolnieks Pētnieks Pilsētnieks’ and exhibition reviewing the work completed will open in social care center later.
‘En-rooters’ is more than just flower-beds and collectively planted seedlings. First of all, it is about inter-generational communication and promotion of tolerance, or, to put it more simply – about learning the art of friendship. It is about wishing well, exchange of advice and the significant skill of knowing how to listen and collaborate.
The aim of the project is to bring forth the question of active and dignified old age, including, for the seniors living in the social care centers.
‘Our project can be qualified as social design,’ one of its authors Jekaterina Stakle told to portal 'Riga 2014.' ‘It means employment of ground principles of design in promotion of well-being or simply – higher quality of life and solution of social problems. Gardening was chosen because it is dear and beloved hobby of many of the seniors, while children, in turn, especially, urban kids are less and less knowledgeable in these matters every year,’ Jekaterina explains.
The seniors can teach and kids can be taught as a result. Besides, gardening is a great platform of socializing – not only pleasant and aesthetic, fruitful in literal sense of the word.
Pots and garden-beds are nursing, mostly, edible goods: dill, parsley, basil, satureja, cherry tomatoes, summer squash, pumpkins, salad, sunflowers, patison, Jekaterina enumerates.
For organizers’ delight, seniors and juniors quickly befriended each other, even so much that communication is maintained even outside ‘En-rooter’ program sessions. Ladies and gentlemen of ‘Ezerkrasti’ were excited to attend the school concert, speaking of it, later, as unique and wonderful experience.
In 2014, when Riga will be European Capital of Culture, even wider ‘En-rooters’ events are planned. Seniors will continue their work of sowing, planting and growing garden and inter-act with juniors. In partnership with ‘Courtyard talkas’ project,’ ‘En-rooters’ will step out to Riga’s neighborhoods and plants grown as a result of senior-junior cooperation, will flourish outside the center of the town as well.
The present idea and work in progress is ‘Green room’ in the very center of Riga, on Esplanade. Jekaterina is reluctant to reveal yet how it may look, but what is certainly clear is – it will be a green space of repose in the city environment offering relaxation and enjoyment of greenery in everyday rush, and even a territory ‘peopled’ by exhibitions, lectures, workshops and discussions.
‘This is the way how children and seniors leave impact on ordering and development of the city environment in periphery and actualize opportunities of involvement in creative and sustainable improvement of surrounding environment,’ creators of the project are convinced.
‘En-rooters’ is part of Riga – European Capital of Culture program; project in thematic line ‘Izdzīvošanas komplekts /Survival Kit.’