After long contemplation on how to describe Shawn Haman, the word that best describes her energy has to be “tsunami.” But don’t even begin to think of that in a negative way; everything about this energetic woman is positive.
She is “an arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities or amounts (Google),” in her case, energy, enthusiasm, hard work, determination and dedication. Evergreen is lucky to have her!
When you meet Shawn, you’ll be greeted by one of the warmest and accepting smiles you’ll ever encounter. She has a way of looking you straight in the eye that guarantees you are the only thing that matters to her at that moment.
She carries that devotion to everything she does; presently, completing the Buffalo Park Community Garden at Wilmot Elementary.
“I joined the PTA before my kids even started there,” she said. “Ever since I moved here, it bothered me to see public space neglected.” So, she set off to repurpose the abandoned space along Buffalo Park Road where Wilmot Preschool used to stand before being housed within the walls of the elementary school.
“In 2014 I met with the principal [Wilmot Elementary principal, Matt Cormier] who at the time had no other plans than to create more parking in the area.” Shawn then set off and made a proposal to the Wilmot Council. “They approved it. The synergy is amazing.”
Shawn studied the Downtown Evergreen Economic District (DEED) plan and it included a garden. Within the Final Trails Master Plan for the Greater Downtown Evergreen Area, “a path would connect downtown, the lake, library, high school, Wulf Recreation Center and Three Sisters Open Space. We’re right on the path!” she exclaimed.
“I went to the last meeting of DEED’s planning in December of 2014 and I met Rachel Emmer, [Director of EAS+Y – Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability +You]. I gave her my proposal for a community garden with a children’s play area and I’ve been working on it ever since.” Shawn points out further cooperative efforts from the community through Evergreen Parks and Recreation. “We received a GOCO [Great Outdoors Colorado] grant and we were able to apply only by going through EPRD.”
Shawn brings not only determination to the project but also a natural and trained talent. Growing up in Liberal, Kansas she knew “ever since second grade that I wanted to be a cosmetologist.” Her artistic talents extend beyond the coiffed heads of Evergreen clients, including sculpture, theater and design, carpentry and countless other forms of art.
Today, Shawn and her husband, Tony, are true Evergreenites; both working from home. “I have my salon in our home and my husband works from home. It works well for us.” So well that their two daughters, seven and four years old, can walk to the community garden.
What is it that makes this busy lady so willing to give to her community? “My mother was a single mom, but my grandmother was very involved in the community. I guess I’m really amazed at what can be done when people get together and go after it.” Shawn shares that gift of working with others. “Most of our volunteers have been high school kids. There were 20-25 National Honor Society students over the weekend” before school was out.
Dismissive about talking about herself, Shawn enthusiastically shared what lies ahead for our community at the new community garden. With the focus of landscape design and regional planning, the garden will have 30 designated plots for area schools, the community and EPRD.
“We’ve built garden plots eight inches off the ground. They are funny shaped [to make it artistic and fun] and raised beds 18 inches high for accessibility. The structures create seating. There’ll be a large chalk board. A central meeting area will be paved with bricks that people can buy for $100 each to acknowledge kids who attended Wilmot, or are or were a part of our community. We’ll have a shade structure with educational and an information resource area. This will be a place where we can have events, and it can be an outdoor classroom for 30-50 people.”
Shawn’s ability to connect with others and her enthusiasm for life are clearly reflected in this project. “We have five volunteers involved in design and planning; one is an architect. Dave Lystrom [Treasurer of EAS+Y] and I are in charge of construction. My husband drives the skid steer. The school district has provided not only the land but the water needed – we’ve put in an irrigated drip system. When we need equipment people are great about letting us borrow it.”
The real passion behind this just might be Shawn’s - and everyone’s - children. “I think our kids and our community are out of touch with ecology. This is a great way to bring that to them in a fun way. It supports every subject. It’s based on the five senses. I think our kids don’t have enough on-hand experience to know about the learning process. It’s more valuable when learning is applied.” They plan to have a pumpkin patch next fall that will coordinate with teachers developing programs around it.
“This is a pure example of people not being afraid to follow their dreams. Following dreams is more valuable than getting an A. We’re all in a web and are connected. If you focus on something that you love and have a passion, you can make it happen. This is happening because it’s people’s passion; it has nothing to do with money or time. After all, if you don’t do something, who will?”