How a Museum Garden Connects Community

Better World Museum is creating an edible indoor garden as a form of social action. Garden One is a project dedicated to creating more equity, inclusion and diversity with placemaking. The garden uses emerging technology to enhance human-centered design and helps make growing plants a mobile connected experience.

The design is a giant orb downloaded from IKEA’s Open Source Growroom, originally created by SPACE10 and architects Mads-Ulrik Husum and Sine Lindholm. Paul Seim, of IoTFuse created the *first prototype model, currently installed at Better World Museum. IoTFuse hosted a Hackathon on September 12th. Many people came to share their knowledge and skills using emerging technology.

Paul Seim, of IoT Fuse, with Christopher Mapp, Director of Diversity and Inclusivity at Better World Museum, assembling the stucture. Imagine putting together a giant IKEA bookshelf. It was super easy and all fit together with wooden pegs. The brilliant design is by SPACE10 and architects Mads-Ulrik Husum and Sine Lindholm.
The IoT Hackathon was awesome! Everyone just got to work creating water systems, working with soil sensors, a Makeblock Robot Kit was donated by IoTFuse. It’ll be exciting to see what we do with it.. attach a 360 camera?

How does this promote more equity in our community? The answer is built into how we will use the stucture and what we plan to do with creative technology in the design and approach to community outreach. The shelves will hold many trays. Each will be planted with containers holding soil-based grow medium with soil sensors connected to a water-pump system and LED grow lights. The soil sensors will also be connected to a LED array of lights that is solely to communicate to the public when to water and when to pick the trays of plants, as well as to alert one on a mobile device. Nobody needs to ask permission to interact because the design informs the public how and when through colored lights for visual communication and audible prompts for multi-sensory accessibility functions.

Paige Dansinger, iPad Sketch. Creative Tech for A Better World, IoT Fuse (2017)

The public will be free to plant, water, and harvest the herbs and veggies growing in Garden One, or sit inside and just be. Better World Museum will also reach out into the community to invite diverse groups to visit and plant a tray in the garden. The visiting groups will plant seeds and spend time watering and tending the garden. An aditional art activity or picking salad greens and herbs to share a nutitious snack as a method of community connection, is a way of convening with deeper meaning. Each group will be able to monitor the trays on their smartphones, or laptops at work or home by following an app created for Garden One.

The public will be free to plant, water, and harvest the herbs & veggies growing in Garden One, or sit inside and just be.

Garden One not only addresses community connection to create a human-centered platform, it’s also a model of smart urban infrastucture for future addressing ecological and sustainbility issues. An edible garden indoors during sub-frozen Minnesota temperatures seems critical in providing green-space, living plant foods, and offering the possibly of survival nutrients in the case of disaster from extrememe climate change or sociatal breakdown. Garden One is not just a Public Art Project, it is a smart-city future solution for a better world today.

Better World Museum is an ideal setting to prototype Garden One. The location is right in the middle of downtown Minneapolis in a dead mall, popular in the 80’s, in the City Center building. Today it’s a hub for the working class and corporate elite, traveling visitors, along with commuters and people along Hennepin Avenue, which includes the Harbor Lights homeless shelter, and Youth Link organizations just a couple blocks away. Unfortunately, vulnerble community members are often not welcome in many public spaces. Garden One strives to create a peaceful, warm, inviting, healing, learning place for all. People will be welcome to water plants or eat radishes and dill. Tethered iPads inside the garden on the interior benches will be availaible for people to draw plants, edit Wikipedia, or record video stories about being in the garden. Our hope is that we will grow so much basil and leafy veggies that we may consistantly supply one of the organizations that support vulnerble commuities with salad greens from Garden One.

Garden One strives to create a peaceful, warm, inviting, healing, learning place for all.

More ways Garden One is creating community is with fun creative projects making gardens in different mediums. These creative gardens include painted murals, digital video, and Augmented and Virtual Reality. Public participation is the core of these projects. People have many opportunites in diffrent mediums to express their unique voices and be part of our community, and larger world, growing better together.

Our First Family Day Mural
Community Garden Murals with Augmented Reality include drawings from teen visitors, and Rebecca K’s Science Reasearch Cards. Becca is our 12 year old Director of Sciences at BWM. Check out her Instagram account @lifeorb_better_world — Our first mural was showcased in FUTURE, Made Here Exhibit, 2017 (photo: Steve Lang)
So many great people participated this Summer! Each person shares a part of themselves.. their stories sometimes are in worlds, drawings, or paintings but each reveals parts of thier identity — these garden murals connect people together!
VR Garden created with TiltBrush. Added to Tiltbrush Sketches, the public is able to remix and add to this drawing. People from Japan, California, Arizona, and New York, and locally in Minneapolis have added to the drawing. Presented at TEDxMinneapolis (2017).
Hattie Ball, Director of VR at Better World Museum, created a VR Garden Walk and Garden One Sketchfab model.
VR Jams and other social events help create opportunites for access to Virtual Reality — everyone gets to try! Guest Artist Eve Hernandez takes over TiltBrush.
TEDxMinneapolis and Jump Into VR Fest, NYC were great opportunites to share VR Gardens with larger communities.

*Personal thoughts: This model is great, but one issue I’m sensitive to is this structure isn’t ADA complient. I feel like we actually need to make a new larger orb — Public Art needs to be fully accessible and inclusive for all! Our plan is to work out all our problems on this prototype and then create a better, smarter, fully inclusive ADA accesible model that may be presented in another public space. Ideal public spaces are in a museum, library, school or university, hospital, airport, civic plaza, or town center.