Paradise Garden is tucked away in Summerville, Georgia that is located in the rural mountains of Northwest Georgia. Since the purchase Howard Finster’s folk art site the local government of Chattooga County, Georgia, the Garden’s stabilization and restoration has been embracing community involvement. The Garden is the culminating focal point of Howard Finster’s visionary art that is set into a landscape of whimsy through assemblage of cast off object to enchant Howard Finster’s audience and let them take home his messages of faith.

Paradise Garden is currently undergoing a restoration spearheaded by the purchase of the site by Chattooga County and thereafter being implemented with the newly formed not for profit, the Paradise Garden Foundation. Paradise Garden since reopening just this past may has had a host of visitors not just from local areas but from as far away as China, Australia, and Zimbabwe.

Talking with Paradise Garden Foundation Executive Director, Jordan Poole, Artplace discussed the many partnerships that have been crucial to the foundation successes in creative placemaking.

ARTPLACE: Who outside you organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?

POOLE: Our best helps towards our successes have been other groups geared toward historic preservation, local art councils, tourism councils and most importantly the local neighborhood.

ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?

POOLE: Good partnerships for us have come from common goals one has been us working to preserve the culminating feature of Howard Finster the preacher and artists legacy, Paradise Garden. The other main goal
has been to develop economic development through heritage tourism. Whatever the main focus of a partner is we know that ultimately our goals are aligned for the common good.

ARTPLACE: How do these partnerships help you further your mission?

POOLE: Our mission is built to showcase the late Reverend Howard Finster’s visionary art site, Paradise Garden to promote social aspects to Chattooga County and the Northwest Georgia region. Working with Groups like the Rome Area History Museum, the Mentone Area Arts Council, the Rome Area Council for the Arts, and the local neighborhood surrounding the garden we are all working to shared goals and also by partnering we expand our capacities to achieve results.

ARTPLACE: What have been some of the results you have achieved by establishing these partnerships?

POOLE: We have been able to do things that our foundation just would not have the ability to do by ourselves. We would not of been able to bring in such an array of talented art instructors for classes that
have been taught to many of our local artists in the county. We also would not have been as successful in our awareness of the Garden’s importance without advocacy from groups like the Folk Art Society of America. All of our partnerships have helped our project keep a momentum that establishing new growth in the vibrancy and placemaking of Chattooga County and Summerville.

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