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Harvard funds racial healing greenhouse ‘to compost grief and germinate healing’

Harvard University’s Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging recently announced 12 grant recipients for the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund, which bankrolls projects that advance DEI-centric campus projects.

Among the recipients is a racial healing project called “The Greenhouse” and described as “a biweekly healing sanctuary centering Black, Indigenous, and people of color for all members to compost grief and germinate healing,” the Harvard Gazette reported Feb. 27.

Other projects that won this year include: a video series to expose the prevalence and harms of “accent bias”; a project focused on “inclusive anatomical images” that aims to correct exclusionary biases in medical education; and a “lighting for diverse skin tones” workshop.

Harvard spokesman Jason Newton declined to answer questions from The College Fix about the grants, stating via email “we do not have anyone available for comment or anything more to provide regarding your questions.”

With that, the university would not state whether the greenhouse is an actual garden or a metaphor, as well as how much the greenhouse project was awarded.

Students, staff, faculty and postdoctoral researchers are eligible to submit project ideas that “foster a culture of belonging on campus” for awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, funded by the Office of the President and DEI office, according to the Culture Lab’s website.

The project idea “must identify a new solution or approach to address a critical challenge around diversity, equity, or inclusion at Harvard,” the grant’s description states.

Since 2019, the Culture Lab Innovation Fund has invested $250,000 annually to fund “initiatives, research, and resources advancing inclusion, belonging, and engagement across the Harvard community,” the Gazette reported.

It was launched that year in an effort to be more “proactive” instead of reactive when it came to DEI issues on campus, the Harvard Crimson reported at the time.

Those who want to be a judge for the grants must complete some sort of DEI training. Harvard declined to provide details.

A Harvard student told The College Fix the fund is not necessarily widely known about on campus. “To be honest, as an undergrad, I’ve never heard of it,” said the student, who asked not to be named.

Harvard is not the only campus to offer racial healing garden-themed efforts.

In 2020, San Diego State University debuted a racial healing garden on its campus at a cost of $250,000. Interviews by The College Fix at the time suggested the SDSU garden was rarely used. It is focused on Native American healings.

At the University of Michigan, its Botanical Gardens & Arboretum employs a DEI manager who works to combat racism within the 700 acres of gardens and natural preserves to make up for “participation in systemic injustices.”

MORE: SDSU spent $250K to build a racial healing garden. Nobody uses it.

IMAGE: Mike 1000 / Shutterstock

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About the Author
Therese Joffre -- Hope College