We had a pretty typical week. MoBob left for two weeks in China yesterday and this morning we Skyped, with Z hugging the iPhone. We went to a birthday party, we attended a Sunday brunch - we *didn't* go to the Cherry Blossom fireworks festival (due to inclement weather) or to see the Butterfly Pavilion (Z was not feeling well and ended up with a visit from Nurse Heidi, the house call nurse).
I guess the big thing is that somehow I've been pulled into Smithsonian politics. Last week I read on the Historic Washingon listserv that Haupt Garden, one of my favorite places in DC, was under threat in the new Smithsonian master plan. I sent several emails and, surprisingly, no one had set up a petition. So I did. I ended up "meeting" several people via email and then attended the public consultation at the Smithsonian on April 13, and gave the following statement.
"My name is Sylvia Cabus, and I set up the online petition to save Haupt Garden. Other attendees here can talk more about the aesthetic and technical aspects of the garden; I’m here as a member of the community. As a resident of Southwest DC, I’m proud that this jewel of a garden is part of our neighborhood. It truly is one of the few public spaces that attracts both tourists and residents.
When I first read of the proposed master plan, I was appalled that it ignored the garden's relevance to public cultural resources, education, environmental stewardship, and urban design - all vital pieces in sustaining healthy city spaces. With the massive brain trust available to the Smithsonian, surely there is a way to accommodate the structural improvements while retaining the garden in its current state.
I’m not alone in my sentiments. As of last night, the petition to save Haupt Garden has garnered over 1,600 signatures. The petition went live last Tuesday, April 5, and by Saturday - only four days later - we hit our goal of 1,000 signatures. Signatures came from all over the US as well as overseas. Printed out, the petition is 138 pages long, and has been covered in local media such as the Washington Post and the popular blogs Prince of Popville and CurbedDC. The rapid pace of signatures has been so significant that iPetitions features the petition on its home page. The signatories’ comments reflect the importance of Haupt Garden; people wrote of engagements, lunch time meditations, and, for one respondent, solace during illness.
One important point I’d like to highlight is that of preserving Enid Haupt’s legacy. Enid Haupt was a remarkable and generous woman. Less than 0.05% of national historic landmarks and monuments are named after or associated with women. It is a disgrace to consider eliminating a public space named after a highly regarded patron of American gardens. Enid Haupt does not deserve the historical erasure that has happened to so many other American women.
I’d like to close on a personal note. I’ve taken our son to Haupt Garden many times, and his daycare visits the Smithsonian on a weekly basis. Haupt Garden is a familiar place to him, and part of the diverse cultural landscape in which we decided to raise him. Ultimately, I want my son to understand the difference between a playground and a garden - an important distinction to instill at a young age, and as you know, crucial for institutional longevity.
To paraphrase a contemporary philosopher, let’s not pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
Thank you for your time."
the WaPo coverage
On April 18th, 2016 06:20 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I bumped into your advocacy last night when I was reading a back issue of the paper. Thanks for posting the petition link -- just signed it. And thanks for your eloquent, beautiful defense of that lovely garden. It's very nearly as charming as Z. (and you and MB, too!) xo