Academic project Harvard Graduate School of Design
STU 1212 / Spring 2022
Critic: Jill Desimini
Rooted in Place is a neighborhood foodscape that simultaneously celebrates the multiplicity of cultural identities and fosters the community’s collective identity.
Boston’s Fields Corner neighborhood is a multicultural mosaic, with a strong Vietnamese population alongside Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Haitian, Irish, and Subsaharan African immigrants.
While Fields Corner is diverse, there exist gaps within organizing toward common goals across differences.
What if cultivating local, culturally-relevant food can help bridge these gaps?
To start the dialogue, the project springboards off existing community food and advocacy initiatives, tethering their activities to the physicality of the landscape.
The Rooted in Place Coalition forms multicultural collaboration across three groups: the community, the organizations, and finally, the developers and agencies.
All three must work together against the challenges of displacement.
Spatially, zones at the thresholds between existing social anchors and proposed food growing sites bring the groups together.
They tap into the productive potentials of various urban sites, transforming vacant yards into socially-vibrant bypasses, embankments into cultivated terraces, and mundane strip mall rooftops into rice paddies and vegetable gardens.
The growing of rice and other culturally relevant food in uncanny landscapes, such as rail embankments and mall rooftops, serves as a potent metaphor for challenging the perceptions of belonging and difference.
Through the tending of the foodscape—a collective commons—the Fields Corner residents proudly identify with the ground on which they live.