Green-Spaces Are Not All Created Equal
(Prouty Healing Garden vs rooftop/indoor “gardens”)
No matter how many times they click their ruby slippers together, for some children it’s a very long road before they get that chance to go home. That is, if they ever get that chance. Although walking out into the Prouty Garden for many is like that moment in the Wizard Of Oz when Dorothy’s black and white world immediately changes to color.
Imagine having that feeling over and over again, that’s truly irreplaceable. For a child that has to undergo an array of procedures on a weekly basis, excitement doesn’t usually seem to be anywhere out on the horizon. However, the little gem known as the Prouty Garden shines brightly, providing just enough to elevate ones spirit, and connect them to the world outside the hospitals doors. A sense of normalcy, a feeling of being grounded, living.
Have you ever had the desire to be immersed within nature and feel the grass between your fingertips? Do you then immediately drive to the local mall and sit amongst the potted plants? I don’t believe that anyone would choose that option. Some people may drive to New Hampshire, Vermont, or visit Boston Public Gardens lush colorful landscape. Some may travel a short distance to walk along Arnold Arboretum’s meandering tree lined paths. I myself would probably stay local and spend a few hours within the arboretum. Luckily for many of us, we have that freedom to choose. Unfortunately, that is a luxury that is not afforded to chronically ill or terminally ill children at Boston Children’s Hospital. Currently they have their very own 1/2 acre arboretum, which is the Prouty Garden. For children with severely compromised immune systems that have to undergo many difficult procedures on a regular basis, this garden means everything to them and their families as well. You see, for many that are immune system compromised, have low blood counts, or are just far to weak to travel any distance, Olive Prouty has already provided just what they need. Maybe we should just start calling her Dr. Prouty, because she discovered a prescription where happiness, breathing easy, excitement, and relief are the only side effects.
We have all heard the term “Father Knows Best”, and in one case this is the truth.
Gus Murby from The Friends of Prouty Garden group did know what was best for him and his son. He is one individual who has repeatedly regained his ability to breathe, again, and again, from the healing properties that this garden possesses. Words cannot describe the quality of life, and level of care that this garden provided to Murby and his son in the most dire circumstances, that most parents could never even imagine. After two failed bone marrow transplants the garden is the place he chose to take his 17yr-old to say a final goodbye. He cannot fathom the idea of this amazing resource not being available to other families that will also have to trudge through the mud, scale the highest mountains, and dodge tumbling boulders that crash and fall at every step of the way along their paths.
As Gus says in his analogy of the Prouty Garden:
“Imagine a major power company proposing to dam the Grand Canyon, due to the tremendous amount of power that it could generate?
Yes, some people might be upset about the loss of this irreplaceable, iconic canyon. However, the power company promises to dig a bunch of smaller canyons in various locations, in order to improve people’s access to big holes in
the ground. In fact, this power company is planning to dig enough of these
holes that the cubic footage of the holes will be 25% greater than the cubic footage of the Grand Canyon. Would people be willing to accept this trade-off as an equivalent, or perhaps, preferred alternative to the original Grand Canyon?”
Mr. Murby also states “A large number of people have a direct understanding of
the importance of the Grand Canyon, so they would clearly reject this plan
as irresponsible — even mercenary, and a direct violation of national
But, the Prouty Garden is a resource that a much smaller number of people
even know about.
For those people who understand its significance, it has played a bigger
role in their lives than the Grand Canyon has in the lives of practically
everyone who believes the Grand Canyon should absolutely
be protected and preserved.”
He also mentioned: “When Dr. T. Berry Brazelton REFERS to the Prouty Garden as a
“sacred place”, he KNOWS what he’s talking about!”
In my opinion I believe that this father has made a very valid point!
For many people the Prouty Garden is their Grand Canyon. It may only be a 1/2 acre in size, but it should absolutely be protected, maybe even as conservation land. Why not? It has also had an immense impact on so many. Adding 25% more green-space on the rooftop and plants scattered inside and out, will not replace the connection that is achieved with a 1/2 acre garden oasis outside in a natural environment. There is no trade-off. Especially when there are other options. All green-spaces are NOT created equal.
A potted plant is NOT interchangeable with a Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) rooted down deeply into the ground. A rooftop cannot replace being in touch with the living breathing earth beneath your feet and its tiniest inhabitants. A therapist no matter how well-trained they are, will never be able to reach in, touch, and heal as effectively as the gift that Olive Prouty has left behind, a tried and true healing garden. Thousands can attest to this, and thousands more in the future, if left untouched. Prouty Garden creates a much needed delicate balance between technology and nature, that is irreplaceable. Once gone, where will patients, caregivers, siblings, mothers, and fathers like Gus go to breathe freely once again?