In August of 2020, in partnership with Bellingham Parks, we installed a bench and gate for access to our Upper Meadow Native Plant Garden in Fairhaven Park. The fence has been in place to provide security from animals (deer mainly), preventing them from eating our mitigation plantings. The gate provides access into the garden, where a gravel path leads to a park bench. The bench faces due West looking to our influencers from the other side of the Ring of Fire, Japan.
The garden gate reflects a Japanese Torii style. This style of a traditional Japanese gate is most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred.
Our intention is to reflect the heritage of Shinrin-yoku (森林浴), which literally means forest bathing, which originated in Japan in the early 1980s and may be regarded as a form of nature therapy. Creating a space for the public ties into our Parkscriptions program- encouraging people to Get a Dose of Nature.
We commissioned Mike McAuley to design & build the structure at the entrance. Needless to say, WE WENT BIG! The influence for the simplistic design gives reverence for the Japanese Torii style- symbolically marking the transition from the mundane (life in the big city of Fairhaven) to the sacred (experience of being in nature).
The gate opening is wider than the ADA standards and will swing both ways and have a self-closing latch system (someday). This is still a work in process/progress. (XO- MM. I’m on the hook too, to finish up a couple details, te)
Disclaimer: Yes, like the Rock Bench with Chris Mellick, I chose my close friend Mike McAuley to design the entrance way.
He just hung his shingle @ McAuley Design Works if you want one for your yard or garden.
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.