By Greg Hugh
The St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden, located in Phalen Park, St. Paul, celebrated the launch of the Garden’s Phase II design, planning and construction with a site dedication event on Sept.18, 2021.
Community members participated in this celebration facilitated in Hmong, English and Mandarin Chinese languages to gather input on design elements including a Hmong Plaza, Moon Bridge, expansion of the Xiang Jiang Pavilion ornamental garden, and the East Moon Gate and Donor Wall.
The Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society () planned an all-day event and was fortunate to be provided with spectacular weather throughout the day. The event began about 10 a.m. with Dakota drummers who are considered the original stewards of this parkland. A formal ceremony then followed to dedicate the future Hmong Plaza with a feng shui blessing, performances and speeches, followed by a lunch break.
After lunch, the Nine Art Stones were unveiled. These represent the Chinese, Hmong and Dakota voices in the garden, and five stones featuring calligraphy of co-founder C.C. Hsiao and MCFGS advisor, Weiming Lu. After the stone ceremony came presentation of winners of New Voices of the Garden Poetry contest. For those who remained through dinner, they were able to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with traditional Chinese fashion show and musical performances. Photographers were available to take photos that could be purchased to benefit the garden.
The St Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden, poetically known as 柳明園 (Liu Ming Yuan), Lub Vaj Phooj Ywg (Garden of Friendship), and Garden of Whispering Willows & Flowing Waters, is a community-based, volunteer-driven public garden developed through long-term collaboration among the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society (MCFGS), the St. Paul Department of Parks & Recreation, the Phalen Park neighborhood, and Twin Cities Hmong and Chinese communities. The city of Changsha is St Paul’s sister city in south China.