The Seed that sprouted Three Ring Gardens

The idea for Three Ring Gardens began as a seed planted by students at Gordon Parks High School two years ago. While looking at a model of the future Central Corridor Light Rail the students noticed two greenspaces next to their high school. With greenspace virtually non-existent in the area, the students were excited by the new idea and asked their teachers “Are we going to have a park next to the school?” Although money to fund greenspace along the Light Rail had run dry, faculty at Gordon Parks High School have nurtured their students’ dream; Partnered with Students for Design Activism(SDA) through the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Minnesota, GPHS and its surrounding neighbors have created a vision to transform 2.5 acres of vacant land into a transit-oriented, community greenspace with an urban agriculture and ecological education program. This dynamic park stands to benefit over 800 low-income, new immigrant residents, the largest alternative high school in the Twin Cities and over 32,000 residents in the direct vicinity, including local businesses. Located on University Ave and Griggs Street in St. Paul, Three Rings Gardens and its neighbors are surrounded by a major interstate, an arterial road, office buildings, and large parking lots. Upon completion, it will serve as the only true public green space in over a half-mile radius.

Responding to the needs of the GPHS administration, community stakeholders, and the student body, SDA has developed a site plan and schematic design for Three Ring Gardens, fostering an education of food production, ecology, stormwater management, and alternative energy endeavors in the everyday lives of the students. For the larger community, neighbors and students, this also becomes a place for public art, pick-up games, outdoor performances, or a simple breath of fresh air.

By focusing on education, equity, sustainability, and community development, Three Ring Gardens becomes a park unique to the region and a destination that will further strengthen the new urban fabric of the Central Corridor while re-envisioning neighborhoods in which we provide cultural, intellectual, economic and natural diversity.