A Laboratory of Possibilities project
At the beginning of the 1930s, Brother Marie-Victorin and Henry Teuscher dreamed together of the ideal botanical garden, with the idea of reconnecting humans with nature at its core. Almost 100 years later, we are once again dreaming of the ideal garden in sync with the current times, which call for a necessary and unprecedented ecological transition.
We are convinced that plants play a key role in the ecological transition and, more than ever, the Garden is in a unique position to contribute to strengthening the relationship between humans and plants. How should the Botanical Garden contribute to this transformation? What expertise should it bring to bear around the world? What unique experience should the Garden offer its visitors? What story should it tell?
Supported in its action by the Ville de Montréal, which also places the ecological transition at the heart of its priorities, Space for Life believes the time has come to mark our era by building an inspired and meaningful legacy. This is the spirit in which the Garden launched a reflection and creation process to dream, together, of the Botanical Garden of 2031.
This participatory approach is based on three themes :
- International outreach
- Community roots
- Space and beauty
Three days of workshops had been planned to address each of these topics. In addition, a complementary questionnaire was to allow a wider audience to join in the discussion. But the pandemic and the restrictions brought in by the government forced us to change our plans.
Nevertheless, work on the master plan is continuing, and we are looking at different scenarios for this process of dialogue and debate. This section will be updated regularly to keep you abreast of developments.
A first workshop, held face to face
A first day of dialogue and debate was held March 11, 2020, just before public health authorities imposed lockdown. Some 80 experts, citizens and employees of Montréal Space for Life and the Ville de Montréal took part.
The conclusion was unequivocal. The Jardin botanique has the leadership required to contribute to the ecological transition and to be a flag bearer of the transition internationally, within the municipal organization and with respect to all Montrealers. A clear consensus was also reached to the effect that plants are the natural allies of human life and that the Jardin botanique should be conveying that message.
A harvest to be reckoned with
Here is a summary of the observations, ideas and visions discussed in the workshop and that need to be considered as part of any revitalization.
- Ecological transition
The need for this transition is undeniable, as is the need to encourage changes in human behaviour consistent with the transition; it is hoped that the Jardin botanique will do its part to help develop a sustainable society.
- Role of plants
Plants are seen as natural allies, both for their aesthetics and ecosystem services, as well as for their increasing role in emerging technologies; the Jardin botanique must showcase all of this.
- Scientific character
Science brings credibility and a solid foundation, whether in the form of research in plant biology, horticultural practices or phytotechnologies; the Jardin botanique is and must continue to be a role model in this regard.
- Importance of connection with nature
With respect to both its importance in the transition process and the need to maintain the relationship with nature, the connection must transcend all our actions.
- Leadership and setting an example
The Jardin botanique is in a key position to drive the ecological transition. It can and must assume a leadership role in the transition and set an example.
- Expertise that benefits citizens
The Jardin botanique must put its expertise, in both research and know-how, at the service of Montrealers, but also internationally, and with respect to various local communities and visitors.
- Citizen involvement
The Jardin botanique must involve citizens and enable them to play an active role in the transition. It must respond to their concerns and incorporate them more into the life of the garden.
- Sensory experience
The Jardin botanique must address the need for immersion in, contemplation of and discovery of nature, and help people reconnect with the living world by offering sensory-focused experiences and an emotional connection that showcase the benefits and beauty of nature.
- Model site
The Jardin botanique must implement best sustainability practices.
- Beyond our walls
There was agreement that the Jardin botanique must extend its influence and its presence outside the physical boundaries of its site.
A detailed report on the workshop is available (pdf, in French only).