C.I.E.L.O. Gardens is a joint project between
Catholic Charities, Northside ISD Adult Education, and House of Prayer Lutheran Church with
support from University of Incarnate Word’s Interfaith Council, City Year San
Antonio, Green Spaces Alliance South Texas and others to provide gardening opportunities for recently resettled
refugees. The mission of this garden is founded upon five core principles:
Community, Interfaith interaction, Education, Literacy, and Opportunity.
With the establishment of these gardens, it is our
hope that members of the refugee community will build social bonds outside
their cultural groups and become active participants within their neighborhood.
House of Prayer Lutheran Church has graciously allowed for the C.I.E.L.O.
Gardens to be hosted on their site. This location is fundamental to the success
of the garden as it is in a high traffic area near an H.E.B. as well as
bordered by a busy stretch of Wurzbach Road. The site of the garden, visible
from the road, will guarantee community interest and participation, and
C.I.E.L.O. Gardens looks forward to those community interactions.
In 2011, the President of the United States
announced an Interfaith Community Service Challenge to all college and
university students across the country; the spirit of that challenge is one of
the core principles of the C.I.E.L.O. Gardens. San Antonio’s refugee community
consists of many varying cultural make-ups that represent many religious
beliefs. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Animists, Humanists, and
others are working together to establish a sense of place where they can all
gather together and share their love of gardening.
Education and Literacy are two of the main components behind the mission of C.I.E.L.O Gardens. Since the site provided by House of Prayer Lutheran Church is also the same location where Northside ISD and Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Services teach ESL, job readiness and self sufficiency courses, as well as provide for other refugee resettlement services, the garden will provide opportunities for educators to incorporate the garden as a learning lab for their classes. Everything from learning garden/outdoor related vocabulary, to workshops on nutrition, environmental sustainability, as well as learning learning skills that could lead to workplace familiarity.