The Good Grief Garden

submission by lennonflowers

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

The Dinner Party, The Kitchen Widow, Hope After Project, First Seating

Organization(s) website(s):,

Organization(s) twitter handle(s):,,,

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Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


The Dinner Party is a community of mostly 20- and 30-somethings who’ve each experienced significant loss, and get together over dinner parties to talk about it and the ways in which it continues to affect our lives.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


We envision a pilot community garden whose central purpose is to do what food has done for millennia: To satisfy not just empty stomachs and our need for physical health, but our social and emotional needs and our hunger for community.

The garden will serve as a center of healing for those navigating grief, where individuals of all ages can get their hands dirty with others walking the same paths, discovering over shared meals and shared experience that they are not alone.

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):

How will your proposal improve the following “Live” metrics? (check all that apply)

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency index

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Housing affordability

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illness

Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (Dream Metric)

Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Percentage of residents receiving coordinated healthcare services (Dream Metric)

Percentage of tree canopy cover (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the healthiest place to live.


The same places where we see food instability are the same places where we see disproportionate loss. Fifty percent of inner-city kids will experience the sudden loss of a family member before they're 21. We cannot talk about poverty, race, systems-failure, or opportunity without talking about grief. If we’re to build resilient communities, and to solve the problems we need to solve in LA, we need to start by building authentic relationships between the people who make up this city. That starts by choosing to share the things we typically avoid, beginning with loss and grief.

- GROW: During the building phase, we will work with LA-based Hope After Project to design and custom-build four community service memorials. These memorials will invite those who have experienced grief to volunteer in memory of their loved ones. Teams may work on everything from painting the mural, to planting the garden, to building benches. The end result will not only be a thriving garden, but a series of living memorials within it: each a tribute to an extraordinary life lost. Moreover, building on LA’s thriving street art scene, we’ll commission a collaborative mural to honor and celebrate the ways in which the legacies of the dead endure through the living, and invite the public to join us in painting it.
- HARVEST: During a one-month span of the harvest season, we will bring together Angelenos of varying ages, creeds, and cultural and economic backgrounds for a dinner series and a chance to share in the foods of the garden, and to talk openly about our experiences of grief and loss and what it means to live well after. We'll invite dinner guests--chefs, storytellers, students & teachers, doctors & patients, police officers & those they serve--to learn about the stories beneath the stereotypes, about their respective roads traveled, and the losses and setbacks and sources of resilience that have made them who they are.
- SPREAD: We’ll film the series & share it as an episode on The Kitchen Widow, & develop a downloadable toolkit for others looking to create their own Grief Gardens. The toolkit will include everything from the science of food rituals & grief, to community gardening 101, to tips/suggested conversation-starters for facilitating a conversation about loss & life after over a meal. Finally, we’ll use the conversation series to create several accompanying toolkits, such as exercises & tips for parents/educators to talk to kids about grief and loss.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


We will measure our success on three levels:
- Direct engagement, as measured through number of volunteers, number of visitors and frequency of use by members of the local community (with a focus on those with limited access to healthy food), number of meals served, and diversity among participants.
- Cultural reach, as measured by number and reach of press hits and social media shares, number of toolkit downloads, etc.
- Self-perception & perception of others: Through surveys & facilitated reflections with dinner guests/visitors throughout the year, we will examine the garden’s impact on participants’ feelings of physical and emotional well-being, mindset and feelings of agency, and empathy toward others both within and outside their own schools and communities.

We aim to realize a day in which those who have experienced trauma and loss are recognized not as objects of pity, but as better listeners and better leaders, characterized by profound empathy, resilience & agency.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Other (please specify below):

1 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

People who lose a parent prematurely is a demographic that society needs to tend to carefully, many authors and researchers have shown that a disproportionate number of such cases go the extremes of outcomes - some of our most successful leaders but also many in our prison system. Learning to tend a garden seems like the perfect fit to me.

by daviddstoker
6 months ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voting Ended
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
at 08:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015