Archive For December 2011

Plain Dealer covers African American Cultural Garden Design Unveiling

December 9th, 2011

Cleveland officials unveil design of African-American cultural garden

Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 10:00 PM     Updated: Thursday, December 08, 2011, 2:32 PM    By Michael O’Malley, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Thirty-four years ago, the late Booker T. Tall, a professor of black studies, stood before 500 people on a grassy plot dedicated that day as the future site of Cleveland’s African-American cultural garden.

Today, the four-acre site in Rockefeller Park along Martin Luther King Boulevard is still unbroken ground. But city officials on Wednesday unveiled an architectural design of the garden that could be in bloom by June 2013, joining 27 other cultural gardens honoring various nationalities.

It was 1977 when Tall told his audience: “We have accomplished two objectives today. We now have a place to honor some of our key leaders. Also, we are now participating members in the world community.”

Tall and other black leaders — including Councilman Charlie Carr and Call & Post editor W.O. Walker — had been working for 30 years just to get the plot dedicated. None of the three would live to see a cultural garden.

“Booker T. Tall is the founder of this vision,” said Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson. “From a desire to a reality, it’s been a journey.”

Johnson was among hundreds of people gathered in City Hall’s rotunda Wednesday to get a peek at the architectural drawings of the project, which is scheduled for groundbreaking in September. The garden would include a walk-through black granite structure, a waterfall, trees and a fountain.

The gathering was also a kickoff to raise private funds for the $2 million project, designed by architect W. Daniel Bickerstaff of Shaker Heights.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to be proud of our part of the cultural gardens,” Johnson said in an interview. “We’re delighted that we’re now part of the club.”

A handful of Tall’s relatives attended the event, drawing an ovation.

Mayor Frank Jackson, who created a task force to push the project, said he was confident the private sector will raise the money.

In an interview, Jackson, standing against a colorfully lighted stage and looking across a sea of faces waiting for the program to begin, said, “I don’t deal with doing shows. I intend to get this done.”

The costs so far for the design were paid from $250,000 set aside by former Mayor Michael White. The money was donated by CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads, which, in the 1990s, had purchased and divided Conrail, creating more train traffic, automobile jams and noise in the city.

As part of a negotiated agreement, the railroads paid for sound barriers and various public projects, including seed money for the African-American garden.

“We’ve got the design,” said Jackson. “Now we’re at the point of implementation.”

The gathering included a host of politicians, civic leaders and residents.

The Rev. Wayne France, pastor of Straightway Community Christian Church on East 93rd Street, lives in a neighborhood near the garden site and walks his dogs there every day.

He and some of his neighbors attended the event. “I hope I see it before I die,” said France, 63. “Right now my favorite is the Irish garden. It’s got a giant cross. I stand on top of the hill and pray over it.”

Another clergy member, the Rev. Hilton Smith, senior vice president, community affairs for the Turner Construction Co., gave the invocation for the program.

With heads bowed, Smith intoned, “God, suspend our disbeliefs and bring us the beliefs that the African-American cultural garden will come to be.”

0 comments | Post Author: Bill Jones

Duchnovich Returns to the Rusin Cultural Garden

December 1st, 2011

Alexander Duchnovich’s bronze bust is back in the Rusin Cultural Garden looking better than ever.  It is a reproduction of the original bust which has been missing for a long time.  Unlike the original bust, the new Duchnovich bust is now on the East Blvd level on top of a beautiful, new, veined, stone pillar approximately 8 feet tall.  It is a very welcome addition to the Rusin Garden’s East Blvd plaza which many more people will enjoy thanks to its visual accessibility.

Rusin Garden's East Blvd Plaza with new Duchnovich bust and pillar

Rusin Garden's East Blvd Plaza with new Duchnovich bust and pillar

0 comments | Post Author: Bill Jones