Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for November 29, 2017

UAFS students lend helping hand to Hope Campus

Students from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith came together to breathe new life into a special area at the Riverview Hope Campus.

UAFS students painted a mural on a red brick wall overlooking the beginnings of a community garden at the Hope Campus. It features the phrase “Garden of Hope” written in warm colors against a blue background, surrounded by a considerable amount of plant life.

Bryan Alexis, associate professor of graphic design at UAFS, said the students were part of the Special Topics: Mural Painting class. 

“… Every year for the last three years we’ve run the mural project class in conjunction with the Unexpected,” Alexis said. “This year, they had moved the Unexpected into the summer, and that kind of left us with no festival, but hungry muralist students needing some walls to paint. …” 

Alexis said he approached John McIntosh, executive director of 64.6 Downtown and a member of the Hope Campus board of directors, about needing walls for the students to paint.

Samantha Cole, director for community health and access at Mercy Hospital, said Mercy Hospital started looking at planting a garden at the Hope Campus in about September. 

“We did an immersion event where some of the Mercy co-workers came out and built raised flower beds, or boxed beds, garden beds, in that area in preparation of a garden,” Cole said. “And when you looked at the beds that were built, the wall there is just a plain brick wall, and someone had mentioned how nice it would be to have a mural there, letting everyone know that this is a place of hope. …”

Cole said that is how they started reaching out to McIntosh. McIntosh was instrumental in helping to connect the UAFS students with the Hope Campus to get the mural project started. Cole credits Martin Schreiber, Mercy Hospital vice president of mission, for mentioning the idea of a mural in the first place.

McIntosh said he “basically connected the dots” between the UAFS students, the Hope Campus and Mercy Hospital.

“… It took a little bit to facilitate the design approval, which I was involved in, and then just making sure that the Hope Campus knew that these students were coming to be there, and they rolled out the red carpet for the students, and it took them two or three days to do everything that they needed to do,” McIntosh said. “And we ended up with a really nice mural that’s a backdrop and colorful behind the garden. …”

McIntosh said he believes the mural will have a lasting impression for those who come to the Hope Campus to get a hand up in life.

Alexis said the Special Topics: Mural Painting class collaborated and put a design together, submitted the design, got approval, and figured out the amount of paint it would take to complete the project, among other tasks.

“I helped them with the purchasing of the paint, and, you know, any questions they had kind of along the way, ” Alexis said. “But for the most part, they scheduled it, they went down and projected, and drew the design on the wall.”

Alexis said one of the first directives the class received from the Hope Campus was that it wanted the name of the garden “Garden of Hope” and it wanted that text incorporated into the mural.

“… And (the students) went through several design iterations where they were featuring vegetables and fruits and things of that nature,” Alexis said. “But because I think that, you know, the garden that was going to grow a variety of things, they kind of went more … sprouting and growing, and new life emerging from the ground, and I think that’s what the Hope Campus is partially about … giving people hope, and giving them new life, and giving them skill, and giving them things that maybe they haven’t had before that could emerge and grow in their own lives.”

Cole said McIntosh sent her and Schreiber four different versions for the design of the mural. All three of them picked the final design.

“… The one that we picked, we were all in agreement with it,” Cole said. “That was exactly the picture that we were looking for, exactly the hope that we wanted to bring through that artwork.”

The painting of the mural took place Oct. 26-27, Alexis said. The students projected the image onto the wall on the night of Oct. 26 and painted an outline before spending all of the next day painting.

When asked why he believed this was an important project for the students to perform, Alexis said it is all about “design for good.”

“… I think that so many times we get wrapped up into the commerce of design and the commerce of art ,” Alexis said. “Sometimes, it’s important to just take a step back and say, ‘Hey, you know, you can also use these skills that you have for the enhancement of your community, the enhancement of your fellow man, not just the economy, but our collective wellbeing, and I couldn’t have thought of a better project, with them coming together with an outreach for the homeless in our community, and connecting the students with that. …”


The release states the following students participated in the mural:

Nathan Meyers of Alma.

Manyseng Soukhaseum of Booneville.

Claudia Lackie and Julia Sexton of Fort Smith.

Hannah Hayden of Greenwood.

Ryder Chang, Cole Stufflebeam and Lauren Westfall of Van Buren.

Article source:

Couple’s love for Olive Garden inspires baby girl’s name – KSLA

FORT SMITH, AR (KFSM/CNN) – A couple who once ate at Olive Garden nearly every day for seven weeks is now planning to name their daughter Olivia Garton.

Justin and Jordan Garton chose their baby’s name to celebrate her Italian heritage, but it had been a joke in the family for quite a while that the couple would name her after Olive Garden.

The two once visited the restaurant frequently after hitting a financial rough patch.

“That’s when we bought the ‘Never Ending Pasta Pass’ because we didn’t have enough money for groceries. We knew that the investment in the $100 Pasta Pass would save us money, and it did wind up saving us over $250,” said mother-to-be Jordan Garton.

The couple decided on the name Olivia after they fell in love with it – but it helped that the name resembled that of the restaurant.

“So, we just knew that that was going to be it, and then we were like, ‘Oh yeah, we can still subtlety make the pun,’” Jordan Garton said.

After the baby’s name was chosen, friends of the Gartons surprised them with a personalized onesie for the baby whose design resembled the Olive Garden logo.

Still, the couple says they didn’t directly name the baby after the restaurant.

“We just happened to have ties to the restaurant. The name is close, but obviously, we didn’t want it to be directly naming her after the restaurant,” said father-to-be Justin Garton.

Olive Garden got word about Olivia’s name and told the parents that the popular food chain would have a special surprise in store for the new baby.

“To hear from Olive Garden, they’ve reached out to us, and they’ve even said they’re going to give Olivia an early birthday present. So, we’re excited about that,” Justin Garton said.

With the baby’s due date in early December, it won’t be long before Olivia Garton can have her first experience at Olive Garden.

“We’ll probably be there several times before she can even eat solid foods,” Justin Garton said.

The little girl’s full name will be Olivia Michelle Garton.

Her initials will be O.M.G., another thing her parents plan to have fun with.

Copyright 2017 KFSM via CNN. All rights reserved.

Article source:

Home & Garden: A healing garden in German Village

Jerry Smith’s garden space was designed with peacefulness in mind

Step inside Jerry Smith’s German Village garden and it’s easy to see why he schedules client meetings here. This landscape architect, who helped write the national guidelines for sustainable landscapes and designs greenspaces for health care facilities around the world, practices what he preaches in his own backyard.

“Healing gardens are designed to delight the senses—a bright spot of color to attract the eye, the sound of water or the smell of lavender,” says Smith who is a fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects. “These elements offer positive distractions from an illness or a loss.”

Just outside the front of Smith’s home, a wall of green shrubbery buffers the traffic noise. An iron gate opens to a patch of lavender and a charming brick path that leads to a raised terrace. Oakleaf hydrangeas that are heavy with blooms lean toward the path. Farther down, a large cherry tree veils an open gathering area around a fire pit. In the distance, a row of arborvitae catches the eye with its conical forms.

“We’ve always thought of our outdoor rooms as healing spaces,” says Smith. “That’s our quiet meditation place, our connection to nature and positive distractions place, and our place of social interaction and connection to community.”

After working and living in downtown Boston for 10 years, Smith and his wife, Brooke Michl-Smith, also an architect and contributor in the garden’s design, decided to return to her home state in 1995 to raise their daughter Ruby.

“German Village was the only place after living in downtown Boston,” says Smith. The couple found their diamond in the rough—an 1870s Italianate brick home just a half block from Schiller Park that was overdue for some updates.

On the exterior, the couple removed metal awnings over the windows, took down the metal louvered siding that wrapped around the front porch and eventually pulled off metal storm windows that surrounded a carport in the back. Inside, they renovated the kitchen and extended the space by knocking out a wall to an adjoining sun porch.

Next, they worked with Oakland Nursery, where Smith now works as a part-time consultant, to tackle the landscape, which he describes as “literally concrete and brick with no shrubs.”

Here, they wanted to create a respite from work, a gathering space for friends and family and a play space for their daughter.

Over time, they transformed the outdoor space into four living areas—an entry, an elevated middle terrace, a sunken garden room and an adjoining carport/event space.

“I think of it as rooms with segregations and connections,” says Smith as he points to a dividing wall of shrubs and a connecting path of bricks. “If you see the garden all at once, you have nothing to explore. So I like spaces to have a focal point to draw people in and give them surprises to find throughout.”

For the entry, they created an inviting front porch with a seating area, new railing and an antique newel post they found at a local antique mall. Nearby, they planted a Kousa dogwood with white blooms in spring and red fruits in fall.

From the porch, a brick path leads to an elevated dining terrace.

“Raising the plane [of the terrace] was key to creating a series of rooms,” says Smith. The raised terrace also reduced the number of steps from the kitchen door, making the space more accessible. A row of boxwood, an ivy-lined wall of the neighbor’s home and a tall butterfly magnolia further define the intimate space. Here, they enjoy morning coffee and grow a collection of culinary herbs in pots.

From the terrace, the brick path steps down into a large garden room covered by the canopy of a mature cherry tree that blooms pink in spring. At the far end, the square space is separated from the alley with a brick wall and row of arborvitae. A seating area is surrounded by June-blooming Annabelle hydrangeas and August-blooming Tardiva hydrangeas, a Japanese maple, a Ruby Falls redbud and a collection of hostas and other perennials. In the middle, a vintage glider purchased at the German Village annual garage sale is the plumb seat by the fire pit. A water fountain finishes the space with a relaxing gurgle.

The final outdoor space is the carport. Smith connects the carport to the garden room via a tunnel of shrubs and an iron gate from his mother-in-law. He cleverly tucks this alleyway of viburnum and lilac shrubs beneath the kitchen window where their fragrance wafts into the house in spring. On most days, the carport provides off-street parking for the couple’s vehicles and a workspace using a potting bench from the repurposed kitchen sink and cabinets. For special occasions, the couple parks the cars in the alley and transforms the carport into an alfresco dining room, complete with a pop-up dining table and hanging light fixture.

The backyard is not only a respite for the couple, but for urban wildlife. A robin keeps a nest atop a column on the front porch. Songbirds visit the bird bath. Occasionally, a falcon will appear as it passes from its Downtown nest to Schiller Park.

It’s no wonder Smith meets with clients in the kitchen’s sun porch, where they can enjoy the sounds of these songbirds, the warmth of the morning sunlight, the colors of the garden or the fragrance of lilac.

He knows a sensory garden’s healing power firsthand. When he was laid off during the recent recession, he says he redesigned details in the garden a dozen times. Thankfully, the process and the outcomes kept him believing in himself.

“Nature is a mediator,” says Smith. “We can connect with nature and its cycles of life. When leaves fall in winter, we don’t despair and have hope that things will come back in the spring.” 

Article source: