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Green spaces and legacies

Using urban revitalization projects to celebrate our legacies

Photo of Pearl Sequeira
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Tom Tidwell Tree

I am an alumnus of the Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, and was the last MSc student to train under Dr. Thomas T. Tidwell. My brother always refers to him as a legend. This is true. Dr. Tidwell was a legend in the field of reactive intermediate chemistry. More importantly, he was an amazing educator. Every trainee - undergraduate and graduate student, and postdoctoral fellow - can attest to the quality of mentorship we received under him. 

My favourite memories of Dr. Tidwell include him talking about bird walks, the ravine tapestry of Toronto, and of course his bow-tie collection. Fun fact - you can make bow ties from curtains!

In 2002, the Department of Chemistry received an anonymous donation to transform its concrete surroundings into a green courtyard. When Dr. Tidwell retired in 2004, his lab gifted him with a tree, to be planted in the Department's Courtyard Garden. In Spring 2005, trainees from different eras of his illustrious career, came together and celebrated his legacy. We planted a tree with him, and gift wrapped it with a bow tie, of course! 

I make it a point to visit the Courtyard Garden, whenever I'm on campus. I am reminded of Dr. Thomas T. Tidwell. I am extremely grateful for his mentorship, and owe a lot of my successes to him. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

- We celebrate politicians and high profile donors via plaques, renaming public spaces and hospitals. Can we use urban revitalization projects to remember the legacy of citizens who positively impact our lives on a regular basis - educators, hospice volunteers, caretakers and custodial staff? - How to we celebrate an 'end of an era'? Can we look at retirement experiences to understand dying?


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Photo of Lucy Stewart

This is a great idea. When my brother passed we decided to plant a tree a year in his memory. I'd love this to scale across communities to create "living" cemeteries. 

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