Students gathered in the former smoking garden last Friday, bathed in sunlight and the smoke of incense, rather than of cigarettes. Among them were ASUSF Senate President Shaya Kara and her incoming successor, current Senate Vice President of Advocacy Reyna Brown. The University Ministry worked with Senate to rename the former smoking garden as a peace garden, which was an effort spearheaded by Brown.
Kara explained that Senate first began to work on the Peace Garden after she had a conversation with Wilita Sanguma, who serves as the assistant directors for justice and outreach in University Ministry. He asked her what the University planned to do with the communal space that was once the smoking garden, which sits in the center of three USF dorms. When she admitted they had no plans, he suggested they use the space plant a peace pole, a fixture that looks similar to a street sign, but features messages of peace in eight different languages. “I brought the idea to Senate, and that’s when the planning of the peace garden started to bloom,” said Kara, adding, “Get it?”
As part of the ceremony, participants painted rocks to be placed near the newly planted peace pole, and also burned incense. “We thought that the smoke would represent the transition from the smoking garden to the peace garden,” said Brown.
Brown says that in the coming year, they plan to transform the peace garden even further by collaborating with the Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club, the Office of Sustainability and the art and architecture classes. They intend to transform the space with a statue garden, and by incorporating more sustainable landscaping in order to create more room for students to socialize. “I’m hoping that it will spark a campus community where students feel more inclined to engage with one another in physical spaces,” said Brown.
Photo Credit: Sofia Deeb/ Foghorn