In May 2011, an EF5, mile-wide, multi-vortex tornado chewed through a large swath of Joplin, MO. In just 38 minutes, the tornado claimed 161 lives, injured 1150 others; it caused billions of dollars in damages, and left thousands of trees decimated, uprooted or maimed. Parts of the community were utterly devastated.
In response, a special project, funded largely by Nature Sacred via our National Nature Sacred, drew together a multi-disciplinary team of architects, city officials, psychologists, musical therapists, urban planners and community members to help design and build a healing garden for the community.
In May 2014, The Butterfly Garden and Overlook opened to the public. Among its most striking features are space frames that symbolize the homes that were demolished during the brief but extreme winds of the tornado. The design symbolically weaves together design themes related to Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning, the path a healthy person takes to work through the pain of grieving for a loved one or something lost. Water features and a butterfly pavilion are also key components of the space; the butterfly pavilion acknowledges stories told by children that butterflies helped them during the storm. And as another nod to the space’s story, plants that attract butterflies have been incorporated throughout the garden. Throughout the garden – on the storyboards and water features, are quotes from archived stories of storm survivors.