Community Building at Stimson

Jun 2, 2022 | BLOG, Community Building

Last month a group of volunteers from SmithGroup Landscape Architecture’s Ann Arbor office braved inclement weather to help provide some much-needed garden bed revitalization. 

Jennifer Fitzpatrick, Avalon’s Employee Experience Partner, and Grayson Carr, Avalon Property Manager, were involved in this project. Each have background and appreciations to share.

History about the Project

The SmithGroup’s Ann Arbor office reached out looking for a service project as part of their DEI mission. Given their expertise in landscape design, we asked if they would create a low-maintenance landscaping plan using native plants and perennials to pilot at our Stimson property. Stimson is a high-visibility Avalon property. 

Avalon’s John Slowey worked with the design team to pick out the flowers and come up with the design. The plan focused on the plantings around the gazebo and entryways to the property, plus a large garden facing South Industrial. Landscaping was chosen to create a welcoming environment for residents and encourage folks to socialize outside. The garden also includes pollinator plants to keep the bees and butterflies happy. John also worked with Turner’s Nursery and Landcaping to purchase the plants for a discount. 

This project has multiple layers of collaboration. SmithGroup Ann Arbor staff volunteered 40 hours of time, sponsored some of the cost, and spent a Saturday morning installing the plants. Two tenants from Stimson helped with the planting and two more joined us for coffee and donuts. 

Avalon’s George Bryant joined the event, as he was onsite completing a work order. Thank you to Grayson Carr, Avalon Property Manager, for being awesome and communicating with tenants.  Thank you to John and Anthony for arranging the planting event! Everyone appreciated the preparation that went into making this day happen, leaving the fun part of planting for the volunteers! It turned out beautiful. It will be fun to watch the plants grow and bloom all summer and fall. Also a big thanks to Avalon’s Dave Schrotenboer and Jason Potter for supporting this work and providing staff resources to make it happen.  

Photo of a wooden gazebo surrounded by a garden bed with several green plants
The gazebo at Stimson surrounded by new native plants!

Massive Thanks and Appreciation to

  • Jennifer Fitzpatrick, who coordinated the event, communicated with SmithGroup and provided coffee and snacks. In general she staved off the rain and thunder’s effects with an infectiously positive attitude.
  • John Slowey, for his green thumb, knowledge of low maintenance plants, and sharing his botanical passion and enthusiasm. John not only coordinated the purchase and transportation of all those little plant babies, but he worked with SmithGroup to develop a beautiful, hearty planting plan.
  • Anthony Bennetts, who joined John early on a Saturday morning to move plants and tools from the Jones office to Stimson, for his unflagging energy and approachability, and for his perceptiveness and care to make sure nothing is amiss at Stimson or any other property.
  • Volunteers from SmithGroup, whose warmth and liveliness brightened the gray and wet day. It was obvious that each one of them cared deeply about the end results. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a group of landscape architects. It would not have been possible without SmithGroup’s coordination, donated time and money, and people power!

Stimson residents came out to either help or say hi, and their feedback was positive all around. Since the event, a number of residents have reached out to inquire about future planting efforts.

Jennifer Fitzpatrick and Grayson Carr

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