Sweet Water Academy Brings Fractals to Charleston, SC

On March 5, 2019, Sweet Water Foundation team members, Devontae Phillips and Armani McCalister, flew to Charleston, South Carolina to lead a fractal building workshop with volunteers and staff of The Green Heart Project. The exchange was initiated by Jesse Blom, Executive Director of The Green Heart Project, who previously worked with Sweet Water Foundation as an educator and grower in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This trip was part of what will be an ongoing exchange program with The Green Heart Project and represents the first, formal exchange program of SWF’s newly launched, Sweet Water Academy.  Sweet Water Academy seeks to share SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development with educators, practitioners, and community-based organizations across Chicago and beyond via exchange programs, workshops, courses, practitioner residencies, fellowships, and train-the-trainer programs.  Sweet Water Academy’s exchange program demonstrates how SWF works at S.C.A.L.E., building Sustainable Collaboratives Across Living Ecologies.

Read on to learn more about this Sweet Water Academy exchange.

In December 2018, Jesse reached out to SWF with a request to send unassembled fractals to The Green Heart Project to add seating to their gardens across Charleston. The Green Heart Project is in the process of developing and launching a new ½ acre urban farm site in downtown Charleston and invited SWF to be involved in the development of the farm. Although SWF has delivered numerous fractal workshops to educators and community members in Chicago, Detroit, and Boston, this request represented a new opportunity for SWF to establish an ongoing exchange with The Green Heart Project and share its practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development with Charleston.  

The SWF core team prepared fractal stock, packaged the pieces in boxes, and shipped them to The Green Heart Project in late 2018. Three months later, two of SWF’s Peer-to-Peer Mentors, Devontae and Armani, flew to Charleston to lead a workshop during which they co-built the fractals with The Green Heart Project’s volunteers and staff. This initial exchange not only helped to fill Green Heart Project’s physical need for seating in the garden, but also provided an opportunity for interpersonal, professional, and cultural exchange between SWF in Chicago and Green Heart in Charleston. During their visit, Devontae and Armani had an opportunity to interact with Green Heart’s staff and volunteers to broaden each of their horizons. They were also able to see and experience the city of Charleston and explore the similarities and differences between the two cities.

Since their visit to Charleston, the fractals have been used as seats, tables, storage spaces, and have become a welcome aesthetic in the garden.  The Green Heart Project and SWF are in the process of shaping future exchanges - virtual and in-person - to further their practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development.

Courtney Hug