In the center of the campus of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado lies a peaceful garden. Beautiful concrete paths are lined with trees and plants, leading to a central courtyard. Throughout the day, mule deer come by to nibble at the variety of plants throughout the garden. The plants themselves are mostly endemic to the region and grow sustainably, providing a uniquely local experience.
Hesperus Park was named in honor of the nearby town of Hesperus, the original location of Fort Lewis College. In 2006, it was dedicated and renamed to include the word “peace.” The name change was in conjunction with the theme of the college’s annual Common Reading Experience, which focused on Leonard Bird’s Folding Paper Cranes: An Atomic Memoir about the aftermath of the atomic bombings and the nuclear arms race.
The design of the park incorporates some elements of the kiva, a space used by the Pueblo people for meetings and religious rites. Fort Lewis, which offers free tuition for Native American students, awards about 16 percent of all baccalaureate degrees earned by Native American students in the nation. Other Indigenous art and influences can be found throughout the campus.