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Butterflys may flock to National City Tara Davies | Sat, Mar 23 2013 12:00 PM

The Pomegranate Center has begun plans to construct Butterfly Park, a "gathering place project," on the corner of Palm Avenue and 20th Street in National City from April 18 to 20; and they need volunteers.

Pomegranate Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating spaces for collective creativity and engagement within communities.

“Our mission is to increase social capital, or a sense of community, in various neighborhoods,” said Milenko Matanovic, founder and executive director of Pomegranate Center. “Our method is to help communities create gathering places for personal enjoyment and small gatherings.”

They have built more than 40 such gathering places in the northwest of Washington state since their establishment in 1986, and have chosen this location in National City as their first project in California.

“In recent years we’ve been given a grant to do projects in other parts of the country and San Diego was one of those locations,” said Matanovic. “We created a request for proposals and five groups (and their proposed locations) were selected. They met with us and among themselves they selected the one in National City, because it was most ready, the most likely to succeed.”

San Diego’s second Pomegranate Center gathering place will be constructed later this year in Barrio Logan.

The partners involved in the construction of the National City gathering place include The San Diego Foundation, A Reason To Survive (ARTS), Olivewood Gardens and the city of National City.

Olivewood Gardens personnel suggested the location of this unused land adjacent to the National City Golf Course.

“It was supposed to be a park, but it was never finished because of (a lack of) funding,” said Pilar Arballo of Olivewood Gardens. “We saw this as an opportunity for a little community park to take flight.”

According to Matanovic, ARTS is crafting tile mosaic structures to be installed in the park as part of the functional infrastructure, and Olivewood Gardens is contributing plants that will attract butterflies.

“Milkweed is the main plant for butterflies to lay their eggs and caterpillars to eat and grow. We will be planting milkweed throughout,” said Arballo. “And I got a butterfly kit. Hopefully, we will have butterflies by then and let the butterflies out at the park.”

In the spirit of building a sense of community, the organizations are calling on members of the community to get involved with construction of the gathering place. From April 18 to 21, more than 100 volunteers are expected to help build the park.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come together and actually use their hands to do something that will benefit their community,” said Arballo.

And she says the invitation is not limited to the immediate neighborhood, “We have people from the community and all over National City and South Bay.”

Arballo emphasized that any type of volunteering is needed at the park, not just the expected building and installing of structures. “We need people to cook, plant, play music or provide entertainment.” said Arballo.

For more information on volunteering, contact Pilar Arballo at (619) 434-4281 or pilar@olivewoodgardens.org.

To learn more of the Pomegranate Center’s work visit pomegranatecenter.org.

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