Garden Forever
Jacksonville's Gardens of Peace

With a firm conviction that dreams are more powerful than fear, love more powerful than hate and peace more powerful than war, community members are gathering together to create "Gardens of Peace" in Jacksonville Florida. Individuals as well as organizations such as schools, diverse faith groups, civic groups and businesses are a part of the coming together to grow a people’s garden, to be planted and nurtured by everyone, just as peace is something that each of us must cultivate within our hearts. By combining the artistic and creative arts with the living plants of the garden, they symbolically unite the spirit of peace with the physical expression of harmony and discovery that is possible within our human diversity. The objective is not to create a memorial, not to focus on the horror of death and destruction. Rather, this is a garden designed as a place where peace and compassion, hope and understanding can grow, flower and bear fruit.

Celestial Therapeutic and Ornamental Gardens, Inc. a new non-profit organization dedicated to the use of gardening as a healing tool, is acting as a catalyst to join together community members of all ages, ability, faith, color and national origin. They are working with Jacksonville's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Entertainment and other local businesses to find the best possible location for the Gardens of Peace. The Garden space does not have to be large. Any place that is open to everyone regardless of his or her background, heritage, abilities, education or faith can become Jacksonville's declaration of hope.

"Time is at the utmost importance here. It has been a terrible week across the globe. For the sake of our children, our communities, and ourselves we need to start the healing process. The healing begins at home,” explains Veronica Crider, President of Celestial Therapeutic and Ornamental Gardens. This organization has been working around the clock since they came up with this concept of Gardens of Peace. They hope to inspire communities from around the nation and across the globe to look at Jacksonville's Gardens of Peace and duplicate our community's efforts. The Jacksonville community together can inspire children to learn the true meaning of Peace and Hope. Children and adults can learn that the beauty of humanity is the beauty of diversity.

Once the site has been chosen and the gardens are ready Individuals and groups will be asked to bring a plant, flower or shrub that has meaning to them or is significant to their heritage. These plants will be planted randomly throughout the garden so that the place of origin, the nationality of the plant is blended into the community of all the plants. The gardens that result from these efforts will not be formal beds of single species in rigid rows of uniform color. They will be a glorious patchwork quilt of faith in the future as they reflect the diversity of humanity and the strength of the human spirit.

Garden plans call for walkways paved with bricks on which have been inscribed the word PEACE in all the languages of the world. Heritage groups are encouraged to provide these bricks as a physical expression of their dream of universal peace. Sculptures that depict peace and hope are requested from local artists from colleges, universities, and individuals.

Children from local schools are being asked to use the innate creative talents that reside within their hearts and souls to design special tiles to be used on raised beds within the garden. These tiles would be a reflection of each child’s concept, each child’s artistic expression, of what peace looks like. Children of all ages could be a part of the creation of this garden by expressing their thoughts and dreams.

To ensure that this is a Jacksonville Community Garden of Peace, national grant moneys are not being requested. The community will need to join together to create Jacksonville's Gardens of Peace. Individuals, businesses, and local churches are asked to help in supplying the many materials needed to create the garden's hardscape including benches for visitors to rest on, bricks for the walkways, lighting for evening contemplation, plumbing for watering the gardens and water fountains. The most immediate needs for this garden are the materials for the Tiles of Peace to be given to the public school system so they may begin work on their art project right away. To see how you can help grow Jacksonville's Gardens of Peace or spread the peace through out the globe, please call Liz Peak at (904) 287-6827 or (904) 813-3283.

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