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Harmony Grove Peace Walk and Labyrinth (Bronx)
Type of Memorial: Community Garden, Park
Address: Brook Avenue and East 141st Street
State: New York
Country: United States
Open to Public: Yes
Description: Purpose:According to Michael Stipkala, one of the Friends of Brook Park, "The Living Memorial Project allowed the kids to talk and help make the place a sanctuary of sorts. It offers peace, quiet, and reflection on the events of September 11th. Kids in the neighborhood say 'we deserve something nice in the neighborhood...I'll walk the labyrinth and come out feeling like a queen.'" Kim Iacono, also a Friends of Brook Park volunteer, adds, "this project functions in every way that has meaning to me-- as an educational experience both about how things are grown and develop, and will be grown by the community involving scores of people, and also it will function spritually and experientially....The project also serves to instill in the kids a sense of how important and empowered they are." The labyrinth and peace walk is a place for contemplation and beauty in response both to September 11 and to the problems of the world more broadly as well.
Reason site was selected:The site for the labyrinth and grove is part of the fenced-in area of Brook Park, but it is covered in asphalt that is now buckling due to problems with the subsoils--as it was formerly a housing site. The Friends of Brook Park have long hoped to develop this area in green, rather than by adding another playground, and now their project is gaining momentum.
Events planned for site:On September 11, 2002, Brook Park held a dedication along with several other gardens in the Mott Haven neighborhood to dedicate and link their existing (painted) labyrinths. They continue to hold ongoing meetings with community members and schools to solicit input on design and implementation of the project, while attending community board meetings and reaching out to Parks for input as well. The creation of the project is an event itself, but once the grove and labyrinth are in existence, they will serve as a site for "a real prayer for world peace," Iacono said.
Do you believe your memorial is a sacred place?:Stipkala responded, "That would be up to how it is perceived and used. With the existing garden, people and children plant and feel ownership over the space. In a secular way, people feel their energy is important to the space, and the fruits of their labor are apparent...Also the fact that there's so little trash here shows that the community feels ownership over the space." Iacono added, "People will use this site to cross a boundary into a sacred space--to deal with grief, pain, illness, and forgiveness. They will let go of that in prayer when crossing the bridge. The unity and peace ring of trees is the only solution to events like September 11. We are creating a place to focus the mind on peace and to let go."