By Melissa Silverman
On October 7, three new Peace Gardens opened in Southwest DC with the intention of preventing future gun violence while honoring lives previously lost. The gardens include dedicated spaces for contemplation and remembrance, as well as a range of activities for young people, including community service, recreation and social events.
The Peace Gardens were created through a partnership between the Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) and GOODProjects. Financial backing came from Building Blocks DC, an initiative from the administration of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to use a people and place-based approach to preventing gun violence.
The opening celebration featured music, art and community booths from organizations across Southwest. Food options included We, the Pizza and hand-fired burgers from community residents Kacie and Jordan Haden, who jumped in to run the grill to show their support for the Peace Gardens.
GOODProjects Chief Engagement Officer Darius Baxter described the event as a collaborative effort. “Everything we look to do as an organization with our projects is to be a catalyst,” Baxter said. “When violence happens in our community, we want to get to the point where we stop acting like it’s not a big deal. This is to say we are not going to stand for violence in our communities anymore. These community gardens that we’ve installed over the last few weeks are a constant reminder, not just to this community, but to the entire nation, that we want to remember the lives lost to gun violence every single day.”
GOODProjects works to help families in Southwest D.C. live fulfilling lives free from poverty and violence while promoting health and wellness. Their flagship programs emphasize academic achievement, economic empowerment, and self-sufficiency.
The Peace Gardens were built in three centrally located community spaces, behind the James Creek Resident Council (100 N Street SW), next to Syphax Gardens (1520 2nd Street SW), and next to the Southwest Family Enhancement Center (203 N Street SW).
The gardens will include art, enhanced public amenities, flowers and edible herbs that the community can pick for personal use.