Design Principles at Work

Design principles are a valuable resource for artists.

At first, it may seem that defined principles (or guidelines) may limit creativity. In reality, they provide structure to artistic creativity. They’re a constant reminder of what the artist is trying to achieve and why.

That is the case for The Fargo Project, as well.

While The Fargo Project’s pilot site, World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park, is certainly a public works project (stormwater basin), it’s also a work of public art. Early on, the founding artist and project lead established design principles that have driven everything from how we make decisions to what activities we plan for the site.

Jackie Brookner (1945-2015), the founding artist, and Nicole Crutchfield, a Fargo city planner, identified four design principles.

These principles recognize that communities are dependent on the health of the natural world, even if our day-to-day activities have been removed from it. They recognize that within all cultures, we create stories, music and art that reflect our relationship with our surroundings. The design principles also respect ecology and uphold water as a natural resource that connects us all.

Whenever our team moves forward on an idea or starts to dream about what’s next, we review the design principles and confirm that we’re staying true to the artistic intent:

Principle #1 Let the Water Lead
Create a self-sustaining, hydrologically functioning basin true to the regional ecology. Maximize opportunities for the regional prairie landscape to express itself and develop. This means there should be little in the way (such as concrete) to influence the way the stormwater basin behaves.
Principle #2 Learn from the Natural Environment
Learn how the ecological systems behave, practice responsive adaptive design and adaptive management.
Principle #3 Involve Community – Belonging
Make efforts to maximize diverse community participation throughout the life of the project from conception through long-term maintenance.
Principle #4 Experience Nature and Ecology
Create opportunities for people to enjoy the natural environment. The landscape is a unique attraction where people can experience the qualities and ecological relationships of a prairie landscape.


World Garden Commons Welcomes the Vernal Equinox

The World Garden Commons welcomes the vernal equinox

The World Garden Commons welcomes the vernal equinox

Today is the vernal equinox, the beginning of Spring, the season for renewal. Astronomically speaking, the equinox happens at the same time worldwide 10:29 UTC (or 4:29 CST) even if we don’t share a time-zone.  The world over, days and nights are nearly equal length, although not exactly.

Right here at the World Garden Commons, dawn broke at 5:44 AM, the sun rose at 7:27 AM and the sun will set at 7:40 PM making our vernal day 12 hours 13 minutes long.

During the equinoxes, the line on the earth which separates night and day, is vertical and connects the north and south poles. During our summer months, the dark line tilts past the north pole shedding more daylight and providing us warmer temperatures.  This line is called earth’s terminator. Read more about it.

Spring means planning for summer activities, the completion of winter construction and the start of new projects. It means new garden planning for Growing Together community garden, and new season of research.

Seeing Equinoxes and Solstices from Space:
Credit: NASA, Meteosat, Robert Simmon


Thankfully, temps are back to freezing

Thankfully, temperatures are back to freezing in the region.  Spring can wait at the World Garden Commons until our winter work at the northeast inlet is nearly complete.

Because the soil at the bottom of the basin remains mushy and soft, and never fully dries, some of the heavy work at the site had to wait until the soil froze.  With cooler temperatures the site’s ready for work.

The water features have been the subject of much of the winter construction. Today, six truckloads of concrete were removed as the NW concrete apron surrounding the outlet was dismantled. This structure will be replaced with more natural features, such as rocks and plants.

While we are ready for spring – and a new season of action,  if you like heavy equipment and chilly weather, checkout the construction at World Garden Commons.