Amy Logan in the Westender has written about Judy Zipursky and the remarkable Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway situated behind Tupper Secondary School close to King Edward and Fraser Streets.
The Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway located on the 400 block of East 23rd Avenue on a block of street that has been closed since the 1970’s because of on street car racing. It remained an asphalted street closed off with chains until the tragic death of Jomar Lanot, a student at the school who was swarmed and murdered by a gang of youths outside the school grounds in 2003 after playing basketball. While none of the student at Tupper Secondary were involved with the incident, it impacted them deeply. The school and neighbourhood communities wanted to do something that celebrated their place, their spirit, and hope-that is what the Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway has become.
This project was inspired locally and the students were an integral part of the process, from the imagining, the public process, to the building and the maintenance. The garden contains a rain garden, a council circle for outside classrooms, an area for a chef’s garden for the school kitchen, places to reflect and places to chat. The benches in the greenway were built by students in the school’s woodworking class. The Lanot family have been involved in the steering and caretaking of the space, and there is a special rock in the greenway with a saying of Jomar Lanot’s ” Culture is the root of our lives and Love is the most powerful force”.
Neighbourhood greenways are different from city-wide greenways in that they are incepted and taken care of by neighbours and interested community members. The gardening maintenance and planting of the Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway has been managed by a remarkable master gardener, Judy Zipursky.
As Amy Logan notes: “After 34 years as an occupational therapist in the mental health field, she’s now retired, but she hasn’t stopped giving back. “As a therapist, I incorporated gardening into my programs whenever I could,” she says. “It is therapeutic on many levels to be responsible for growing a garden and seeing flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables mature. It can give one’s life a sense of hope.”
While the Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway was opened in June of 2008, it is now looking for a new set of interested gardeners and community members willing to come out and work in the garden. Judy Zipursky has co-ordinated work in the garden every month for nine years, and the results have made this neighbourhood greenway the “best urban space in Vancouver ” according to one Price Tags urbanist.
As the article states: “Once a deserted and underused space, the greenway has blossomed into a gently winding series of flowerbeds, herb gardens and berry patches. Over the years, students from the school’s art classes have added pottery plaques and mosaics – one class grew and tended a vegetable garden – and the garden has hosted festivals, plant swaps, and concerts. There’s always someone using the greenway, from a musician practising cello, to mothers visiting with each other while their children play.”
After ten years of commitment, the project is short of new gardeners and community members wanting to be involved with the project. If you are interested, please contact Price Tags-we’d be delighted to forward your information and have you involved in the next decade of this superb urban space.