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177 Chapter 9 THE HEALING POWERS OF NATURE IN JOPLIN’S CUNNINGHAM PARK Coupling Design-Build and Civic Ecology Keith E. Hedges, Traci Sooter, Nancy Chikaraishi, and Marianne E. Krasny May 22, 2011, was supposed to be a day to celebrate, as high school graduates in Joplin, Missouri, tossed their caps into the air. But the Sunday graduation ceremony quickly turned to tragedy when a tornado barreled down through the middle of the city, killing 161 residents (SPC-NOAA 2015; Kansas City Star 2011). The entire community felt the impact of the tornado’s destructive path (Letner 2011). Yet after the tragedy, Joplin community members, along with a flood of volunteers from nearby Drury University and beyond, generated multiple “civic waves” of recovery. This chapter describes Drury University’s design-build of historic Cunningham Park, whose trees and infrastructure were decimated by the tornado. Whereas we focus on the greening aspects of recovery, Joplin’s post-disaster efforts also encompassed building new homes for tornado victims, an initiative of the network television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Other actors included TKF Foundation’s Open Spaces Sacred Places program, which funded Drury and Cornell universities and the U.S. Forest Service to explore the healing outcomes of one greening initiative. As a result of these efforts, Joplin’s Volunteer Tribute garden provides an environment to support group healing, while its Butterfly Garden and Overlook offers private moments for individual recovery. The creation of the Joplin healing spaces illustrates a foundational tenet of civic ecology—thatpeopleoftenturntostewardingnatureafterdisasterorconflict,inwhat has been labeled “greening in red zones” (Tidball and Krasny 2014). Such greening 178 MOVEMENT BUILDING actions may be spurred by humans’ innate need to connect with nature, or biophilia (Kellert and Wilson 1993; Wilson 1984). For some people, this need becomes more powerful during trying times (Okvat and Zautra 2014; Helphand 2006), in a phenomenon referred to as “urgent biophilia” (Tidball 2014c; Tidball 2012b). Postdisaster stewardship actions also may be motivated by a desire to restore places where people have spent their lives and to which they have become attached—what has been called“restorative topophilia”(Tidball and Stedman 2013). While illustrating some tenets of civic ecology, the Joplin case also pushes the boundaries of previously described community-driven civic ecology initiatives. Not only did the Joplin greening efforts involve significant expertise and leadership from students and faculty at a university seventy miles away from Joplin; they also engaged volunteers and researchers from across the country, a national television show,and a national funder.In so doing,the Joplin case raises issues we have observed in volunteer greening efforts more broadly, most notably the balance between the engagement of local actors and more powerful outside actors in design of community space (Eizenberg 2012), the importance of short-term volunteers (Fisher, Svendsen, and Connolly 2015), and the engagement of university students in stewardship through service learning and student clubs (Sooter, Chikaraishi, and Hedges 2013; Krasny and Delia 2014). In this chapter we first describe the creation of two gardens after the tornado and then discuss the Joplin case within the context of scholarship in civic ecology and volunteer stewardship. Joplin’s Cunningham Park Cunningham Park, Joplin’s first city park, is deeply rooted in the city’s history and its residents’ sense of place, and reflects ongoing efforts of private, civil society , and local government actors. The park takes its name from Thomas Cunningham , a miner, farmer, grocer, and Civil War volunteer, who is best known for founding the Bank of Joplin and becoming the city’s first mayor in 1897. Cunningham donated seven acres to Joplin in 1899, which the City Council designated as a park, vowing “to make it a place second to no park in the state.” The Joplin Women’s Park Association then used a tax levy to develop the park, installing a fountain with a waterfall. Subsequently, the city added flower beds, a bandstand, a shelter, a playground, a refreshment stand, a swimming pool, and a bathhouse. By the Great Depression in the 1930s, the park was a vital Joplin landmark , known for its concentric circular gardens. The majestic Carl Owen house, built around 1911, overlooked the park. In addition to being used for community gatherings, Cunningham Park carried special meaning for Joplin residents because of its history, amenities, and over two hundred beautiful, centuries-old trees (Simpson 2011). CHAPTER 9 179 The Tornado FederalEmergencyManagementAgency(FEMA)directorCraigFugatedescribed the situation after the tornado: “We’re talking thousands of families impacted, hundreds...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781501714993
Related ISBN
9781501714979
MARC Record
OCLC
1013988671
Pages
276
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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