LEXINGTON, Ky.—Transylvania University sophomore Danny Woolums is taking a proactive approach to improving an empty lot at one of the busier intersections on campus.
He recognized that the 55-feet-by-33-feet, concrete lot at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway had potential to be used, but it wasn’t until he read an e-mail asking for submissions for a Lexington 2010 Neighborhood and Community Sustainability Grant that he knew what to do. The grant funds local initiatives to promote environmental awareness and conservation. With the support of the Transylvania administration, Woolums wrote a proposal that would transform the lot into a greenspace with flowers, bushes, and benches for people at the bus stop. He also proposed displaying eco-art by Transylvania students along with a metal sculpture in the center of the lot.
“I was walking past the lot, and it occurred to me that I had seen it a lot in the past two years I’ve been here, and there’s nothing that goes on there,” he said.
He was awarded the grant during a public ceremony in April, and work will start on the garden in August with a tentative completion date by the end of September.
“It’s going to be an extension of the Transylvania community garden and a way of reaching out to the at-large community,” Woolums said. “It’s saying, ‘We want to take a spot that’s useless now, improve it and let you all come in.’”
The Transy community will benefit from the garden, as well. Plans are already being discussed for biology students to study the species of plants and wildlife in the lot, and chemistry professor Eva Csuhai will take her students to test the soil before and after the garden is constructed to see how the soil chemistry changes after adding life to the area. A pre-orientation service program for incoming students will work on the garden the week before classes start and learn about urban gardening.
“For a small, inexpensive project, this has a lot of positives,” Angela Dossett, Transylvania sustainability coordinator, said. “It will help improve water quality, it will help diversify wildlife habitat for some birds and butterflies and all kinds of desirable wildlife, and it’s going to turn that corner into something aesthetically pleasing to look at.”
The project is an example of the product of several sustainability awareness efforts that Transylvania is instilling in its students, faculty, and staff.
“Danny, being only a sophomore and already seeing the value he can add to the community by doing this as a member of the Transylvania community, speaks highly of not only Danny but of the university and the culture it creates and the student leadership that it fosters,” Dossett said.
Woolums is a member of the board of directors of the Transylvania Community Garden Association, a member of Bluegrass Greenworks Inc. and serves on the steering committee of Lexington Fair Trade Town.
Karen Anderson, Transylvania’s coordinator of community service and civic engagement, will help coordinate the grant.