Students, community work together to beautify downtown

Work on a new community green space for public use has brought together members of the Ripon College community and downtown Ripon alike.

The space at 310-312 Watson St. was the site of two buildings that were destroyed by fire in late 2013. This spring, Ripon College students put in a layer of topsoil and worked to scrape away paint and remove debris from the site. Grass was planted and is growing over the summer, promising a more beautiful space for the community to enjoy.

The proposal to create the green space was formulated and presented by the Environmental Group of Ripon (EGOR), the campus’ sustainability group. Interest in the green space happened earlier this year, when the burned-out lot on Watson Street was brought to EGOR’s attention.

“President Zach Messitte brought up the potential of it when we were in Orientation Committee, and it sort of hit the back burner,” says recently graduated EGOR member Sara Driebel. “But then, when we were doing homework with a couple of other students in Mugs, (we saw that the lot) just looked sad, and there were children playing in the dirt and the glass. We decided to do something.”

Katie Tredinnick ’16, who served as EGOR’s co-president, revived the idea, and the group began work on their proposal. “It took a lot of late nights and re-edits,” says EGOR President Ricardo Jaimes ’17. “I think that it brought us closer as a team.”

The proposal was presented in front of the Ripon Common Council on April 12 and received unanimous approval with minimal changes.

EGOR’s efforts are being supported by both students and the downtown community. Several local businesses have donated services or are giving discounted prices for materials. Ripon students are volunteering their time to assist in the process, along with some Ripon faculty. The grass seeds planted in the green space were collected from the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy by Professor of Biology George “Skip” Wittler.

The support from both the College and community is tremendous and motivating for EGOR’s members, Jaimes says. “It feels amazing. One of the reasons I love Ripon is because the community is always supportive of the Ripon College students.”

He says future plans involve putting in new plants and starting a prairie. Update and volunteer opportunities can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/RCGreenSpace/

Megan Sohr ’18
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

(Photo: Kelli Walsh ’16, left, Mackenzie Skumatz ’19 and Rylie Morris ’19 prepare the ground for seeding this spring.)


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