Outdoor Hospitality Project: Creating Safe, Sustainable, Welcoming Space
Outdoor Hospitality Project Blessing
On November 12, 2016 Pathways Retreat celebrated and blessed the outdoor hospitality project completed to date. This included a celebratory ribbon cutting for the new driveway and parking lot as well as a heart-felt blessing of the rain garden, new walkway and landscaping. Those attending ranged in ages from four to 70 and all enjoyed sprinkling the land with a water blessing. The refrain from the blessing:
We receive the blessing of the earth.
We receive the blessing of the skies.
We extend the blessing of God
through creation to all.
Plans are underway to complete the Outdoor Hospitality Project in 2017 with the installation of new signage, the landscaping of the area east of the retreat house and the creation of a fire ring gathering area.
On January 31 Pathways Retreat hosted an open house celebration to mark the completion of the Retreat House Expansion Project – the 1,440 sq. ft. addition. With the community support of 129 individual donors, five churches, 14 businesses, a grant from Community Foundation of Elkhart County, and 280 volunteer hours, Pathways Retreat was able to pay for the building expansion with cash.
Additional capital funds are now needed for the Outdoor Hospitality Project – to improve the parking lot, create a rain garden, and plant native landscaping. A printable brochure is available here.
Parking Lot Improvements
Pathways Retreat’s parking lot holds six cars and needs to be expanded to 15 spaces (per city requirements). In 2010 the City of Goshen passed an ordinance requiring all parking lot expansions to be constructed of durable, hard surface. Permeable pavers cost three times more than concrete and seem an unrealistic option. Pathways requested and received a variance allowing for the use of limestone for the overflow parking area, pouring concrete only for the existing drive.
New signage and parking blocks will make it clear where to park and how to enter Pathways. Currently, first-time guests sometimes enter the adjacent private residence, to their embarrassment. This project will provide welcoming hospitality.
A parking lot with a level surface increases the safety of all guests. In addition, a concrete lot will ease the removal of snow and ice, again, increasing guest safety.
To meet the city’s requirement to capture storm water runoff, Pathways will create a 2,020 sq. foot rain garden with native flowers, grasses and shrubs.
Pathways plans to bioscape around the retreat house. What is bioscaping? A sustainable approach to landscaping that improves habitat, conserves water, and decreases use of chemicals.
The “Bio” part includes a smorgasbord of native plants to nourish creatures in the entire food chain. And the “scaping” part is creating an attractive as well as a useful landscape for humans to enjoy. Designing not only for beauty but biodiversity to sustain a healthy ecosystem, Pathways will avoid exotic plants that are invasive or don’t support wildlife and will install native plants that provide food and cover for a range of animals.
The total amount needed to improve the parking lot, create a rain garden and plant native landscaping is $21,000.
Pathways has applied for small grants for the rain garden. The rest will be covered by generous donors who believe in Pathways Retreat’s mission of offering space for rest, reflection and renewal with God.
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