Every time we drive by an empty lot or a “road closed” sign, we feel a tug at our heartstrings. Still, every time we see rain in the forecast, anxiety flickers in our minds. We have come together as a community and displayed incredible strength, compassion, and resilience finding ways to help our neighbors and return a semblance of wholeness to our town. But there will forever be a part lost.

As a landscape designer, I have been searching for an way to contribute something that leverages my talents. When I was approached about participating in a Montecito Memorial Garden, it felt right. Several groups, including the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara Garden Club, and Santa Barbara Bloom Project, are already committed to helping make the idea reality.

Envision a landscape that tells a story of the event and its impact on the community, and forever remembers those who were lost on January 9, 2018. Low broad mounds representing each watershed’s mudflow; boulders arranged in family groupings (23 people who, although lost, remain with us, as solid and as permanent as stone); trees standing over the representations of loved ones, for the families forever impacted; and for a community forever changed, a slab boulder set on edge with a large hole cored through — because although we stand strong as a community, we’ll forever have a part missing.

The garden has a proposed location: the triangle at Hot Springs and Olive Mill. However, cutting through municipal red tape there — or anywhere for that matter — will take time and the stars in alignment. I come to all readers in the hope that you might help us align those stars or find another suitable home for this garden where it can be enjoyed by all. Your support and suggestions are appreciated.


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