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Drury University will receive more than half a million dollars from the TKF Foundation for its project, Landcapes of Resilience to study the effects of nature on health and well being.
The University is working in collaboration with several organizations and businesses including Cornell University.
Traci Sooter, director of Drury’s Design/Build program, says the project has many layers to it—lots of sentiment and reflection.
She hopes it will help the Joplin area continue to heal.
"We're gonna create a space that is going to not only provide this natural space but a quiet place, a place for reflection and to improve resilience," she said.
The design for the project in Cunningham Park includes three houses that were erased by the storm, two sacred places where people can sit on benches and write in waterproof journals, water features and a circular butterfly garden.
"And the reason for that is because of all the hundreds of stories of young children reporting butterflies of butterfly people helping them during the storm. I don't know what that is. I get goosebumps everytime I tell that story, but it's important and so we've incorporated that as well," she said.
There will also be an overlook with views of three memorials in the park: one for those who died in the tornado, a reflecting pond for children and a volunteer tribute. There will also be storyboards to tell the story of what happened.
A Drury class of third-year architecture students this fall will design and build parts of the park. Nancy Chikaraishi, associate professor of architecture at Drury, says other students are involved, too.
"There's also an engaged learning class, which is through the English department, the history department, the political science department where students, they came on May 22 and they listened to stories. They asked residents to tell their stories of what happened, where they were when the tornado hit, and so we are collecting these stories and writing them down, and they will be featured on those story boards," she said.
Anyone at Drury is invited to help with the project.
Work is underway, and Chikaraishi says the park is expected to be finished by the end of December.
For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.