Friday, February 23, 2007

Mississippi Renaissance Garden

The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Program Description

Martha S. Boyce
Founder and Executive Director
The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, Inc.
(228) 388-2622 or e-mail me at msbkt@aol.com

(view a letter, along with a note from Martha, that you can send to local organizations to assist in this vital aspect of the recovery)

Mission
Our mission is to establish The Mississippi Renaissance Garden on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to not only provide places for people to reconnect with the beauty of their environment, commemorate the Renaissance of the state of Mississippi and continually renew the spirit of the Mississippi people, but also to. recognize the respect, compassion, generosity and love of the many volunteers from all cultures who are making the Renaissance possible. Through our “Horticulture for Humanity” mission, The MRG will become an example of a pathway to cultural understanding and respect for all countries around the world that come to the aid of others in their time of need.

Objectives:
· To provide non-profit horticultural and therapeutic gardens for the survivors and volunteers of Hurricane Katrina consisting of various themed gardens such as a Memorial Garden, a Therapeutic Inspirational Garden, a Children’s Plant and Play Garden, a Sensory Garden, an Enabling Garden, a Cultural Garden and a Community Garden.
· To promote the spirit of the people of Mississippi in overcoming devastation by the planting and maintenance of these gardens as a symbol of their respect, strength, determination and love for their family, community, state, country and world.
· To develop a base garden and Horticultural Center with satellite gardens maintained by communities throughout the coastal area.
· To provide an area in the base Garden and Horticultural Center dedicated to the generosity and the recognition of individuals and groups from all over the world that are assisting in the recovery, rebuilding and the renewal of Mississippi as well as the development of The Mississippi Renaissance Gardens.
· To offer opportunities for the volunteers to continue their involvement with the gardens through the Garden Angel Sponsorship Program and assist in securing resources from their own local, national or international sources.
· To provide locals and tourists an opportunity to enjoy Mississippi’s beauty and educational opportunities as well as the Renaissance of its southern landscapes.
· To encourage business, civic, casino, school, church, club organizations and individuals to contribute their time, labor, expertise, materials, plants, and financial support to construct and maintain the Gardens and Horticultural Center.
· To allow accessible participation throughout the gardens and center for people of all ages and abilities.
· To educate local officials, residents and communities to work towards creating and preserving green spaces within our communities, and to encourage beautification of existing commercial, neighborhood and city green spaces by offering incentives such as award certificates, site plaques and recognition in local media and on the MRG web site.
· To encourage the transport of visitors to the Gardens and Horticultural Center utilizing public and casino buses and trolleys.
· To offer local educational programs such as horticultural therapy, garden planning as well as environmental conservation taught by experienced volunteers to school students, groups and individuals.
· To provide places for art, photography, plant and environmental exhibits, festivals, concerts, theater, and community celebrations with a commission of any sales going to maintenance of the gardens.
· To develop a resource library of volunteers and businesses to provide information, assistance and materials to individuals and groups wishing to develop neighborhood and home gardens.

Description:
The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, Inc. is not only providing the people of Mississippi and its visitors places to reconnect with the beauty of coastal environments, but also places to celebrate the spirit of the people who are making the renewal possible. As a community outreach program, The MRG is working closely with public schools, colleges, civic and private organizations, businesses, local citizens and tourists to promote humanitarian and environmental respect, productivity and responsibility in safe, peaceful, therapeutic and beautiful coastal environments. It is a non-profit organization funded entirely from grants, trusts, sponsorships and visitor donations. All Mississippi Renaissance Gardens will be open and accessible to the public at no charge. The staff will consist of paid and volunteer personnel.
A Horticultural Center is being planned with classrooms available for community meetings, educational seminars and workshops. A gift shop will sell items such as gardening books, seeds, nature related items, photographs, artwork and plants grown in the Garden. An area will be provided for local artists to exhibit nature-related works with a commission of the sales going to the MRG.
Areas will be available for indoor and outdoor exhibits, art, photography, concerts, festivals, and theater with commissions going to the MRG. Sculptures, donated from throughout the country, will be displayed.

Mississippi is setting a precedent to allow future generations to observe and experience the true meaning of respect, resiliency, generosity, gratitude, hope, determination, southern hospitality and pride in the midst of devastation.
The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, Inc.is initiating the development of a “Horticulture for Humanity” movement to help return green spaces to areas of the world that are destroyed by natural disasters.

MRG Board Members:
The Mississippi Renaissance Garden will be under the guidance of:
Founder/Executive Director: Martha Sanderson Boyce
Board of Directors: Cassandra Griswold, Amy Nichols LeMein, Lynn McLean, Linda Saxon Nix, Wendy Barthe Peavy, Rose Russell, Cindy Simmons
Board of Advisors: Sherry Bell, Dr. Bob Brzuszek, Arlene Caanan, Dr. Christine Coker, Lucy Denton, Dr. John Guyton, Susan Hunt, Connie Rocko, Dannette Shaw

2/18 The following activities have begun or have been completed:
· A site for a model garden has been approved at Hiller Park in Biloxi, MS
· The MRG has been asked to help develop the base garden or a satellite garden in D’Iberville and Diamondhead, Mississippi.
· The MRG has distributed seeds donated by America Responds With Love and soil and cups donated by Wal-Mart to the Biloxi Public Schools on May 15, 2006. Future joint projects are planned.
· Hands On Gulf Coast is helping with site preparation, recruiting, training and coordinating volunteers. Future joint projects are planned.
· The Mississippi Urban Forest Council donated over 300 trees to the MRG for planting in neighborhoods, parks and for individuals.
· COMVEST Prosperities donated $1000 toward the start-up expense of The MRG.
· The process of becoming a non-profit foundation has been initiated.
· Grant applications have been sent to prospective funding sources.
· A professional landscape architect is currently designing garden areas.
· A MRG Demonstration Garden has been planted in the John Henry Beck Park Community Garden in east Biloxi.
· The Tzu Chi Foundation of Atlanta GA planted the first 12 foot Live Oak tree dedicated as The Tzu Chi Recovery Oak Tree on the Playground of the Biloxi Margaret Sherry Library on July 29, 2006 and donated $1000, along with a donation of $196 from their students, to the Mississippi Renaissance Foundation. The tree was donated by Frasier’s Nursery.
· A MRG Bring Back the Beauty Program and a We Care Anti-litter Program are being developed and will be offered to coastal cities.
· The MRG, along with local arborists, Harrison County Beautification Department, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Main Street Biloxi, Biloxi Parks and Recreation Department are collaborating to restore damaged live oaks on HWY 90 and enhance the entrances to the city of Biloxi.
· Local, state, national and international merchants, organizations, city and county governments have donated funds, items and services toward the development of The Mississippi Renaissance Gardens.
· Book containing information and excerpts from the many recovery workers will be published with proceeds going to The MRG Foundation.
· Community Educational Outreach Programs have begun and volunteer recruitment and training sessions are being conducted throughout the coastal areas.

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