Film shows impact of Joplin tornado healing garden created by DU students

Media Contact: Traci Sooter – Professor of Architecture; Director of Design-Build Programs: (417) 234-6405

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 22, 2017 — Since opening three years ago, the Landscapes of Resilience Butterfly Garden & Overlook in Joplin has helped the residents of a tornado-ravaged community experience healing and recovery through nature and thoughtful design.

Today, on the sixth anniversary of the Joplin tornado, a short documentary film telling the story of this project – designed by the Drury University Hammons School of Architecture’s Design-Build Program – is being released.

The seven-minute film, titled “Butterfly Angels,” shines a light on an effort that drew together an eclectic and passionate team of people, many from Joplin and the surrounding area; others from a thousand miles away. Together, they focused on conceptualizing and creating a green space, a healing garden, for the purpose of helping the people of Joplin deal with the enormous trauma inflicted by the tornado.

The film will be available for viewing starting Monday at: http://www.natureeffect.org/Joplin. It will also be featured by AccuWeather on television and online.

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“The devastation that Joplin experienced was beyond what most of us can fully imagine,” said Alden Stoner, the producer and co-director behind “Butterfly Angels.” “When we think of disaster recovery, most of us envision the rebuilding process — the reconstruction of homes, businesses — but in truth, it’s about something much deeper.”

Among the voices heard in the film are those of Drury architecture professors and co-lead project designers Traci Sooter and Nancy Chikaraishi; and Chris Cotten, head of Joplin’s Parks and Recreation Department and a Drury alumnus. Others include former mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean and Cornell University’s Keith Tidball, who has long studied how nature can be a source of resilience for communities.

The Garden & Overlook project showcases a unique aspect of the Hammons School’s Design-Build Program: a “whole school” approach that pulls in students and faculty members from across Drury’s liberal arts spectrum. English students collected and transcribed survivor stories, which inspired design students prior to the build, and were eventually quoted on the storyboards in the garden. Psychology faculty has studied the healing aspects of the garden for Joplin residents. More than 60 students, staff and faculty converged on the site to install some features. Music Therapy students played music to motivate, uplift, and rejuvenate volunteers.

“Butterfly Angels” was produced by Stoneworth Studios, in partnership with the TKF Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to enabling more opportunities for people to experience the healing and restorative benefits of nature. The Foundation, through its Nature Sacred Award program, was a major funder of the Garden, which is also serving as a research site for Tidball and a team of fellow researchers from Drury University and the USDA National Forest Service. The team is seeking to learn more about the benefits of specific aspects of these types of green spaces.

Learn more about the Butterfly Garden & Overlook at: http://www.drury.edu/butterfly-garden.

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