After several recent violent incidents, a little peace is blooming in Southwest D.C. Three new peace gardens were opened to the public Thursday, providing a safe space for activities rooted in fighting poverty and gun violence.
The public gardens were cultivated by the community to serve as places of peace, serenity and remembrance
“Our goal is to not just to change the hearts and minds of people that live here, but to create a thriving community that becomes an example for the rest of this country of what public housing can look like, and community gardens are just one of the small steps we are taking to move in that direction,” GOODProjects Chief Engagement Officer Darius Baxter said.
GOODProjects serves 500 families in Southwest D.C. The nonprofit partnered with the Southwest Business Improvement District to transform previously barren patches of land into spaces where kids can learn to garden, practice art, grab a book -- anything to find some peace.
“We hope the event like today is our small signal to say we are not going to stand by and let violence happen in our community and run and hide,” Baxter said. “Just a few days after a shooting down here, we are gathering the community together with peace and joy at the root of what we’re doing.”
Landscaper and nearby resident Charlene Porter put her green thumb to work Thursday, putting the finishing touches on the garden outside the family enhancement center. She envisions her teenage daughter going there.
“It would be good for the community to come out to get to know one another, and I think it’s good for the kids, too,” she said.
The vibrant colors and smell of fresh herbs were too much for Sandra Tomlinson to ignore, and she can’t wait to get her hands dirty.
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“I’m a cancer survivor, and where I lived before I moved here, I sat in my yard all the time. I kept flowers,” she said.
“Any nice, calming environment is always good,” she added.
“You’ve got thousands of people that live here in the Southwest community,” Baxter said. “Everybody pitched in.”
As he looks to the future, Baxter envisions more peace gardens taking root in Southwest.
“It’s a bright future for this community, and these gardens are just a small step of what we’re doing down here,” he said.