The Coalition is looking around the world for inspiration. The Eden Project.

Some of us have been lucky enough to travel to Cornwall, England, where a former china clay mining pit was transformed into a world-class attraction. Two huge domed enclosures anchor the site with what looks like bubble wrap for a roof. The largest biome hosts a four-acre rainforest, and the other dome supports a Mediterranean ecosystem.

Visionaries (with no money, by the way) wanted a place to tell the story of plants and people:

The largest indoor rainforest on earth! All in time for the new Millennium!

After tireless fundraising, the Eden Project design evolved. Civil engineers took lessons from nature, and horticulturists gained a new respect for technology. Now visitors reach the domes via a resplendent Outdoor Garden featuring native plants as well as other specialties.  Woven almost imperceptibly into the design of the whole is an ethos of accessibility to visitors of all ability levels. For example, the smooth wooden handrail needed to steady the journey for one type of visitor becomes a tactile pleasure for all. Art exhibits, rock concerts, a famous pastry contest have all found space in the Eden Project, while over a million visitors a year boosts the local economy.

One parallel we see with the Eden Project is the problem of site transformation.

The land available for a botanical garden at Great Park site will require removal of airfields and airplane hangars. With designers and engineers working together, these materials could be combined with layers of soil and green waste to elevate the garden. We imagine berms for grassy picnic areas or even a Lookout Mountain where kids could climb to an observation point. What would they see? A welcoming, shade-drenched botanical garden and, even beyond, to all the activities and amenities that will surround it.

The Eden Project case study highlights the necessity of consulting users early in the design process. Toward that end, the Coalition will soon be asking the Great Park Board for a seat at the table. Our volunteers can assist the Great Park Board in many ways. For starters, we can track community interest and offer expert grant writing.

Raising public awareness through our website is already underway, thanks to readers, like you, who comment on Facebook.

If you would like to join us as a member of the Coalition, we welcome YOUR SUPPORT and your ideas, no matter how “out there” they are.

As the Eden Project reminds us, “the future is our to make.”