About the Project

About the Project

Beverly Hills Bean Field near Cañon and Beverly Drive, ca. 1900. (Courtesy of LA DWP Photo Archives)

At the turn-of-the-twenty-first century, more than half of humanity lived in cities for the first time in history. Open Gaarden brings together history and technology to reimagine what it means to live in this urbanized world, revealing public gardens and nature hidden in plain sight. Our app aims to make green spaces part of our everyday life—part of the foreground rather than the background. Our goal is to help visualize changes in land use patterns over time—from the movement of farms to the disruption of ecological systems to the reintroduction of these spaces in the twenty-first century.

Open Gaarden is focused on visualizing Los Angeles, but our project aims to reimagine other urban areas around the globe. The needs of Angelinos are similar those of other dynamic cities facing environmental issues related to lack of green spaces, gardens and food producing areas, transportation, and air/water quality.

Open Gaarden was conceived by Richard Lee and Natale Zappia while serving as board members of the Garden School Foundation (www.gardenschoolfoundation.org), an environmental non-profit based in Los Angeles focusing on ecological literacy. GSF helps identify school garden spaces, provides curricula, and trains staff to teach about re-greening school garden spaces in LA. After a trip to Denmark, Richard was inspired by the intimate green spaces created across Danish urban spaces—hence the name “Open Gaarden.”

Cañon and Beverly Drive (Will Rogers Memorial Park), ca. 2020.