How the Garden City of Garden City became a ‘garden paradise’
Garden City, a community in northern California, is a model of community planning, a place where every decision about where to plant trees is made by its residents, the people who live there.
“It’s a community of people, of people who have a sense of ownership,” says Michael Ruggiero, a senior adviser at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the state’s top forestry agency.
“We don’t want to take over.”
Ruggieres community, a suburb of Los Angeles, has more than 30,000 people.
Its 1,200 residents work in agriculture, forestry, landscaping and other fields.
It has more green space than anywhere in the United States, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Its population is about 65 per cent white, 18 per cent Hispanic and 5 per cent black.
Ruggies family is the only white family in the community, and their land is among the last to be developed in the city.
This has made it a “natural place for growth”, Ruggiers wife, Karen, tells Al Jazeera.
“Garden City is very different from the rest of California, in that it has been very intentional about developing a sense that people of colour are not the main inhabitants of the land.”
For many of the residents, this was an important part of the plan.
Rugieros family is one of several in the US who moved to Garden City from the surrounding town of Bakersfield, which is about 75 kilometres north of Los Angels, in 1990, before the state opened up land to development.
It was a time when many California communities were still struggling with a lack of affordable housing, and many were still trying to deal with the effects of the opioid crisis.
Ruppert, the local architect, remembers being at a community meeting at the time and seeing some of the first residents of Garden Cities development.
“I thought: ‘This is it.
This is the beginning of something really special, a utopia,'” he says.
“There was no fear at all.
Everyone just thought this is a great community, this is the place to be.”
A new community in America’s heartland The city was officially incorporated in 1994, and today, it has nearly 1,000 residents, most of them white.
Its growth has been fueled by the arrival of thousands of immigrants and the arrival in the mid-1990s of a new generation of Chinese, Koreans, Mexicans and Filipinos, as well as many African Americans and Latinos.
“The community was born out of a desire to embrace a new kind of development,” Ruggiere says.
They came in all different forms, including by way of cars, buses, boats, trucks, buses and trains, he says, “but they were all coming together to create something that would change the lives of all of us.”
The first people who arrived in Garden City were Chinese, and the city soon became a magnet for them.
“As the population grew, it became more and more difficult to keep it clean,” RuppERT says.
By 1995, there were about 6,000 Chinese in the town.
In the 1980s, a lot of the Chinese immigrants were working in construction, and they were living in a small house that had been bought for them by a Chinese family.
The Chinese community took over the town’s park and recreation centre, and then they became one of the towns residents.
“They wanted to build something special,” Ruddy says.
The community developed a sense for what it wanted to be, and began creating a vision of the future, one that was very optimistic and optimistic.
It became an incubator for new ideas.
Ruddy and Ruggieris children, and others who grew up in Garden Cities community, have seen this growth in the past couple of decades.
“People who come from China are more open-minded than they used to be,” Ruddiero says.
In recent years, Garden City has been home to a slew of new restaurants, including a restaurant called the Garden.
“When they first opened, it was a small restaurant, and I remember walking into the restaurant and I thought: this is just what you want, this looks beautiful, this has so much character,” Ridders daughter, Ashley, says.
Ruddiers granddaughter, Samantha, says her grandparents were the first in their family to come to the United State from China.
She grew up with her father and her grandfathers in GardenCity, and remembers how happy they were to see people from all over the world come to this town, which had a large Chinese population.
“If you were from China, you were invited to the party, you got a big party, everyone else just wanted to get together, because they were just so excited,” she says.
For Ruggire, the first Chinese to settle in Garden city were the Ruggiros.
“My father was a truck driver and he drove to the Garden,”