Our Letter to the Community

Hello friends of Greenwood Pond: Double Site! My name is Stephanie Daggett Joiner. My husband, David, and I are the founders of Save Greenwood Pond. Your support is everything to the preservation of Greenwood Pond: Double Site. This park has been enjoyed by families for three decades. My husband and I live in the Drake neighborhood and we come here all the time. We love running, meditating, and picnicing here in the summer. It’s our place of refuge because it’s secluded and quiet, as I’m sure it is to many of you.

As a photographer, I also do a lot of client work at Greenwood Park. I can tell you, this place is the crown jewel of our parks. On a summer or fall day, this is the most peaceful place in the city. There are so many beautiful backdrops for photography across the park. To imagine it being torn down, is truly heartbreaking.

When I first heard that all the wooden and metal structures were soon to be removed by the Des Moines Art Center, I immediately asked why and if there was something I could personally do to help. So, David and I began to make phone calls. I quickly realized that the Art Center didn’t want to return our calls. And while my husband and I love and support the Art Center, I was truly disappointed by this. The initial bid for restoration I saw online was over $2 million, and the Art Center was claiming they need 3 new positions to manage this piece. But why?

I started to wonder if volunteer opportunities had been explored, or if the community even knew about these plans. I quickly realized that the answer was no.

My husband and I discovered that if the piece were to be torn down, the pond would be drained, leaving the ecosystem in it to die. The crab apple trees, ripped from their roots to make way for excavators so the pilings could be ripped apart. We discovered that all of the pieces would be removed, even the ones that are still in okay shape.

Again I asked myself, why are we doing this? Why are we spending so much money to tear it out just so the city can come in and rebuild something different. When clearly there are many parts of this installation that are still in fine shape.

I decided to step up and spread awareness to the community who had been more or less left in the dark about these plans.

So I got busy and made us a website and a marketing campaign. I partnered with some of my graphic design coworkers who were so kind to make us a logo and social media material. We designed T-shirts and Raygun put them up, front and center in their east village store. The word is slowly starting to get out, and many people are very disappointed as I was.

I’d like to share some of the Google Analytics stats I’ve discovered from our website:

We’ve had over 1,400 users from around the world visit the site from the US, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany, the UK, Australia, Indonesia, and Ireland.

We’ve had 371 petitions submitted in just 3 weeks.

These statistics show that Greenwood Pond: Double Site is loved across the globe.

And for good reason, Greenwood Pond: Double Site is a one of a kind piece of land art that can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world. It offers an up close and personal interaction with the water, tall grasses, and prairie flowers.

Des Moines has recently been ranked among top places to live in the US News and World report. I can’t help but think of how much our art scene has exploded in the last 5-7 years. And then I think about Greenwood, it’s the exact kind of place that attracts young families to live in the surrounding neighborhoods. It attracted myself, I moved here from 45 miles away, and my husband who moved here from Seattle.

It is an honor for Des Moines to have such a world renowned installation right here in our back yard. I believe it’s the Art Center’s responsibility and duty to the artist, the installation, and the community who uses this park, to maintain it. And if they can not, to let the community step in and save it.

Beyond that, the Art Center has a duty to uphold the promise it made to the artist, Mary Miss, when they said it would become part of their permanent collection. If they can not maintain it, they should at least have the respect for it, to not send it to the landfill, but to donate it, or even sell it to an institution who can take care of it.

I think it’s very important for the community to understand that by removing this piece, we lose clout as a city, and we gain a stigma. We will become known nationally by the broader art community as “the city that destroys artwork”. As a Des Moines artist, I surely do not want that blood on my hands. But sadly, we will all pay the price of the decision to disregard our duty to stewed the art we’ve been so lucky to call ours. This is not a cute look for us as an emerging and growing city. Don't you think the art scene plays a HUGE role in the puzzle of growth? Living in the midwest, we sometimes have to be creative about our recreational activities, and the art scene is the very thing that has the power to attract young professionals and families. Art = growth. Double Site = recreation.

I think we also need to realize that this park, because of Double Site, is a refuge for kids and families in many surrounding neighborhoods, including Drake, Roosevelt, Ingersoll, Beaverdale, and the ones directly next to the park. I believe that to rip apart a park, is to fail our children, who greately benefit from playing in nature, especially in a time where we are all so connected to screens. To be in nature, is to embrace the very things that make us human. Doesn't nature play into the wellbeing and development of a child? Doesn't it support mental health and overal wellbeing? Greenwood Park, because of Double Site, allows people to sit at water's edge, to see lilly pads up close, to picnic with thier families amongst the prairie grass, and to rejuvenate — where else can we do this in the heart of the city of Des Moines? Let's think about what we are about to remove from the community, and again, ask why?

Furthermore, Double Site is world renowned, and respected for many reasons. We are so lucky to have this piece. Over the last three decades, it has become intertwined into the fabric of the city and an iconic part of Des Moines. Professors often make field trips here to use it as an example of landscape art in their teachings.

You can read about the national importance this piece has and the uproar it’s destruction is creating from around the entire country from architects, professors, and other artists on The Cultural Landscape Foundation's website. They have posted many of the letters that have been sent to the Art Center for the community to see.

Like I said before, this piece is world renowned and the Des Moines Art Center is lucky to steward it, and we the community are even more lucky to be able to enjoy it daily.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mary over the past few weeks. She is a lovely lovely soul: kind, caring, and brilliant. She will be turning 80 in May. I truly hope that we, as a community, can give Mary the Iowa Nice that she and her work deserve.

Let's put on our creative problem solving hats, come together as a community, and connect the pieces. The pieces are there – we just need to connect the dots of resources and efforts.

Here's what you can currenlty do to help stop the Art Center from removing Double Site and draining the pond:

Please reach out to us, if you have any ideas or input.

— Steph

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