"JARDINCITO" (working title)
A NEW DOCUMENTARY FILM
Jardincito, located at 23rd and Whipple in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, is a new nature play space being built this summer by NeighborSpace, Chris Gent Landscape Studio, PositiveSpace, Christy Webber Landscapes and with the help of the Student Conservation Association's "Jensen Crew."
VASTNESS AND WONDER
Even in small intimate spaces
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen, an immigrant arriving in the states in the late 1800’s, was nostalgic for the sea surroundings of his youth in Denmark, and found a familiar sense of vastness in the “sea of the prairie.” He designed landscapes that inspired a sense of natural vastness, and reverence.
Today’s Innovation: In today’s inner city neighborhoods, everyday vastness can be found and nurtured in many unexpected places, including the sense of wonder and “lost time” created by intimate extended periods of reflection in nature.
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen built many of his designs around the idea of a meandering river, in which limited views around one bend to the next created a pleasurable anticipation of not knowing “what was around the corner.”
Today’s Innovation: Immersive intimate organic pathways in the nature play garden play off this notion of serene anticipation and joyful exploration, scaled appropriately for small wanderers. Dense plantings and shrubs create full body plant immersion opportunities.
Hidden Nooks with Views to Open Spaces
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen designed places in the shade and understory for a garden visitor to nestle in, while simultaneously providing views out to sunny open spaces and fields.
Today’s Innovation: One of the biggest risks to today’s young child is the lack of perceived privacy. Outdoor “child-owned” spaces are harder to come by, but important for children to feel mastery of their world. Creating miniature under-stories where children can nestle in and feel in charge of their own experiences is an update of hidden nooks with views to open spaces.
Naturalized Landscapes with Rocks, Native Plants, and Water Trickles
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen designed spaces to appear as though they were plucked from lush midwestern landscapes, incorporating natural lateral lines, such as Hawthorne branches and limestone slabs to both mimic layered river rocks and the vastness of the prairie. He was also the first to use native plantings in his landscapes.
Today’s Innovation: Naturalized landscapes allow the urban child a “glimpse”of a landscape they may have not yet seen. Slabs of limestone, water imitating a natural spring, sticks, rocks, pebbles, and stumps- these are all loose parts that provide the child visitor multiple affordances for creative play and problem solving, while also replacing unfamiliar anxiety about getting dirty with adult supported joy in the exploration of natural materials and spaces.
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen’s council rings, circular gathering spaces formed with stoned seating areas were inspired by ancient tribal traditions and American democracy, and were a focal point in many Jensen designs, a place where communal gatherings could take place- gatherings around a fire, a storyteller, or simply each other.
Today’s Innovation: In today’s society, the act of communities physically gathering together in shared public spaces is less and less common. Spaces that invite this kind of egalitarian gathering and shared expression is the essence of community-managed gardens and spaces. The community play garden is in a sense the new council ring. Community gardens afford the opportunity for democratic engagement, story rings, campfires,and looking each other in the eye.
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen designed gardens with openings that served as natural sun and star-lit stage areas for performers to dance and perform- these designed areas were sometimes called “the players’ green,” a naturalized space for outdoor theatrical expression and pageantry to occur. Outdoor natural space and theatrical and creative expression integrated important progressive ideas about human agency and joy.
Today’s Innovation: Children use performance and creativity to investigate the way they feel about the world. Play gardens provide natural “play props” and stages for this important developmental investigation, while also affording children the child-led right to make up their own stories, and navigate the group problem-solving that theatrical performance and play scenarios require.
Growing Future Stewards of the Land
Yesterday’s Inspiration: Jensen led the initial battle to save the dunes of Indiana, which is now a national lakeshore. He stood up to the most powerful men in America, perhaps the world: Andrew Carnegie and JP Morgan. Jensen saw the destruction of the dunes and found out that they were buying all the land. He also found out that the dunes was incredibly biologically diverse, the field of Ecology as we know it in the US was born at the dunes by Henry Chandler Cowles. Jensen took his case to the President, working with Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, but WWI was declared and the bill was tabled. Jensen then created a Dunes Pageant that drew an estimated 40 - 70K to the largest outdoor event in American history to that date. It created a conservation fervor that helped launch the modern environmental movement.
Today’s Innovation: If one man, who had six mouths to feed, could risk his career and reputation to take on heady battles with potential clients and powerful corrupt forces, one person who cares about the environment they live in, can feel empowered to do the same. By introducing children to the beauty of native plants and nature in their own neighborhood, and to a powerful figure who stood up for the working poor and for nature, then we are building a generation of empowered and emboldened kids who will care about their world by caring about their neighborhood
Richard Louv's groundbreaking book "Last Child in the Woods," coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” to describe the physical and psychological effects of technology and sensationalist media literally driving parents and children out of the woods and into their screens. Today, Louv postulates, children spend so much less time outdoors that a wide range of behavioral problems ensues. Louv believes this generation will be the first in modern times to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. But what if technology isn't the only obstacle to connecting to nature, what if fear of your life essentially assures that your child will not go outside?
We will be filming two families in the Little Village neighborhood to see if Jardincito can actually impede gang violence in the neighborhood and stop youngsters from joining a gang.
What if your neighborhood was essentially devoid of park space, safe park space you could get to?
The park opened in October, 2015
The garden is just two blocks from La Frontera, the imaginary gang line between the Two Six Nations and the Latin Kings.
La Villita would need an additional 100 acres of green space to meet national averages.
This groundbreaking project will follow two families with: a gang member teen, a tween on the borderline and a preschooler whose influence on the family may be the most powerful force in the family.
We are currently in production and working with the Chicago Police Department, community leaders, HeadStart, Our Lady of Tepeyac, Catholic Charities and others to capture the story.
I'm from La Villita as my people call it
Where kids go to jail before they get to college
A poor childhood is what we all acknowledge
When many in the neighborhood emigrated from agrarian or semiagrarian towns in Mexico, what does a high level of concrete, crime and poverty do to one’s sense of selfworth?
Historically, how was the neighborhood planned and what were the battles that were fought and lost a century ago by Jens Jensen and others to add green space?
What effect has the extreme lack of nature had on this struggling community? Can a walk in this park heal a neighborhood by administering a dose of nature?
Why don't families go outside? How much fear is there in going outside? Will the park act to interrupt gang violence as it brings the community closer? Will the park initiate desire for more parks in other gang territories?
Nothing like this film has been done before. Jardincito has the power to be a beacon of hope and improvement for Little Village and ultimately to influence the way cities prioritize where they put parks. But it also is susceptible to becoming a magnet for gang turmoil and violence. Can this community managed park survive without the city behind it? Our film will tell this story.
Our goal is to capture the experience of living in Little Village, where gangs, not aldermanic ward lines rule the neighborhood.
It's now a matter of Eco-Justice - and putting nature where it's needed can go a long way toward rebuilding neighborhoods.
STYLISTIC AND VISUAL APPROACH
Mexican culture is rich with strong visuals in their neighborhoods muralscover many of the buildings of Little Village. They tell the stories of death, rebirth, life,memorializing heroes, troubles and success. We will work with Mexican imagery from murals on the streets to tattoos to gang tags to explore the pain and longing for a safer life of the La Villita residents and their future their children.
Two Six Nation
Traveling Vice Lords
Yesterdays' Inspiration meets Today's Innovation
Jardincito and its connection to Jens Jensen
Help Fund Jardincito
Produced by Viva Lundin Productions
Special Thanks to
Edited by Alexis Lopez
Shot by David Schalliol, Carey Lundin, Domenic Del Carmine
Ernie Wong, Site Design