Early on Tuesday morning over 100 people gathered at The Carroll School () for a ribbon cutting to rededicate as Lorianne's Garden a garden that had been slated to be paved over. It was an unassuming neighborhood event sans public officials, government funding, contention or media attention. Among those present were the local hairdresser, the owner of the bagel store around the corner, the omnipresent funeral director, a number of former teachers from the school, little girls dressed in summer dresses and, of course, the parents of the little girl for whom the garden is named.
Over 25 years ago a beautiful little girl passed away from a sudden illness. Like many of today's children from Carroll Gardens, she lived in a brownstone, attended P.S. 58 and danced at Albee Dance School. Sadly, she never got to experience the many adolescent and adult joys of life. Yet, she continues to impact the lives of countless people in our community through the love and dedication of those she touched, especially her parents.
Even in my short life it has been my experience that things fade with the passage of time; history is discarded as trash and memories are lost. Lorianne’s Garden was almost a victim of the passage of time. Dedicated over 25 years ago, the tree garden on the 1st Place side of P.S. 58 was dedicated by a principal who has since retired and celebrated by teachers and students who are long gone. It comes as no surprise that in assessing the uses of outdoor space, it was suggested that the gates be taken down and the garden be paved over.
Thankfully, Carroll Gardens is still in many ways a small town in the big city, and word quickly made it to Lorianne’s parents. For these dear people time was frozen and memory had not faded. Working with our Principal and Assistant Principal, this mom and dad fought to find a way to preserve this garden. While the garden serves as a physical reminder of their daughter, they undertook this effort to keep more natural beauty in the lives of the neighborhood children who they have come to love. Lorianne’s parents transformed this forgotten space into a useable garden for sitting, reading and reflecting on the beauty of life. With the assistance of people from the neighborhood like Jimmy and his crew from Jabus Construction, the staff at the school and ultimately the students in each class who planted flowers, this over run space was transformed back into a garden.
After the string orchestra had stopped playing, the poems in tribute concluded and the ribbon cut, Lorianne’s dad looked at me and said sincerely, “It's not about Lorianne, it's about seeing something that needed to be done and getting it done for the children.”
This is what makes Carroll Gardens and neighborhoods like it great places to raise a family. Let us remember to stay dedicated to it, and to support each other. The past is best preserved by honoring the needs of the present, and Lorianne's parents have taken this truth to heart by mentoring new parents and by providing support for young people. They give more than they receive, but they feel amply rewarded.
Please visit Lorianne’s garden as part of her Carroll Gardens family.