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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Living Memorials Project

Grove of cherry trees donated by the New York Botanical Garden, with seating made of stumps created and placed by garden volunteers.
Grove of cherry trees donated by the New York Botanical Garden, with seating made of stumps created and placed by garden volunteers.
The exisiting drawn labyrinth on buckled asphalt--site for the future Harmony Grove, Peace Walk, and Labyrinth--with the garden in the background.
The exisiting drawn labyrinth on buckled asphalt--site for the future Harmony Grove, Peace Walk, and Labyrinth--with the garden in the background.

Harmony Grove Peace Walk and Labyrinth

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."
  • Sponsored by Friends of Brook Park; Camino de Paz; Puebla en Marcha; NYC Department of Parks and Recreation; USDA Forest Service
  • Site maintained by Friends of Brook Park; Community members and schoolchildren in the Mott Haven neighborhood
  • Project website contact
  • Project email contact brookpark141@hotmail.com
  • Address Brook Avenue and East 141st Street
  • City, State, ZIP Bronx, New York  10454
  • County Bronx
  • Dedication Sep. 11, 2003
  • Status Proposed and permanent
  • Artwork yes
  • Public access yes
  • Public events yes
  • Sq. Foot 500 sq ft
  • Acreage 
  • Number & Species of Trees 11-20: They hope to plant 11 cherry trees along the outside ring of the labyrinth, four Cedar "sentinel trees" at the North, South, East, and West corners, twin dawn redwoods at the entrance to the labyrinth, and possibly other trees all along the outside for buffering and enclosure.
  • This project is best described as a Community Garden, Park
  • This project is unique because of the Site Design, Site Planning Process, Site Use, Site Maintenance
  • Project Sponsors and Participants
  • Is the community involved? yes
  • Project was initiated by Individuals
  • Land is owned by City
  • Type of participants Volunteers
  • Number of people involved more than 100
  • Percent of those involved who are volunteers Everyone
  • Are people expected to stay involved? yes
  • For more information contact  , brookpark141@hotmail.com