Our first stop today was to The Children's Garden of Hope, part of the Nobel Neighbours project. Nobel Neighbors is a community based organization with the mission of improving the quality of life in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park community.
Sevak proudly led the team. To our delight, although Sevak has been one of the main Coordinators for the Chicago area for many years, he said this was his first time actually running with the torch!
We were greeted by a small group of incredibly dedicated members of the local community.
Pradhan introduced our Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree project, and today's recipient of the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award...
Our dear friend, Venus Vaughn received the award today. She was a little emotional ;)
Venus Jackson Vaughn is a community leader and advocate. She serves as the program coordinator for Nobel Neigbors, an advocacy organization between the community, business and government. She had devoted countless hours as volunteer for CAPS (Chicago Area Projects) and CPD (the Chicago Police Department), as well as the Chicago Public School system. She is a member of the NAACP, the Westside Ministers Coalition, the Peacemakers, the Leaders Network, Fathers Who Care and the Rainbow Coalition. She was recently inducted into the National Civil Rights Hall of Fame. In addition to all this, she also serves as a pastor! She was instrumental in establishing a Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree at the Nobel Neighbors Children’s Garden of Hope in Chicago.
Venus spoke with humility and majesty of her passion for what she does. Venus has been enormously supportive of our Peace Tree project and we are deeply grateful to her, she is a true sister-friend.
Venus is pictured here with her husband, Clinton Vaughn.
Different people from the community spoke about their commitment to peace.
James Lundeen is one of the committed volunteers in this garden.
The Peace Tree in this garden is dedicated to this wonderful woman, Maura Madden. Maura started transforming an overgrown lot into this beautiful garden back in 1994, and has been passionately committed to it ever since.
We were deeply inspired by Maura and her heart of goodness.
Today we were inaugurating this tree, planted back in October 2021. The quote on this tree says,
A mind of peace loves all,
A heart of peace awakens all,
A life of peace satisfies all.
- Sri Chinmoy
We passed the Peace Torch around and all took a moment to pray for peace.
Thank you Maura, may The Children's Garden of Hope spread its beauty and fragrance around the world!
Biggest thank you to all the members of the community who came out to share their love of peace with us.
Maura led us on a meditative walk around the garden.
Many vegetables are growing here!
Oliveria finds the perfect lunch seat!
Our next stop of the day was Cameron School, just down the road.
"Peace begins with me"
These kids were very enthusiastic and had very good geography!
Troy Withers, Restorative Justice Coordinator, invited children to read writings on "A need for Peace in Our Community"
Students also read haikus they had written based on Nature and Peace.
This boy, Armando, read his operatic style!
"It's wood like iron
Strong and brave during hard times
Nature is so kind"
Kevin read an acrostic poem based on peace:
Any small goodness
A Haiku by Tanyah:
The trees smell so good
Roses take away the gloom
The trees start to bloom
Troy then invited Dellshawn to lead the other children in a very powerful peace visualization breathing exercise in which they put their hands over their hearts making a butterfly gently flapping its wings- so beautiful!
Time to pass the torch!
As we travel around America we have met mant teachers who are quietly playing such a significant role in bringing peace to the world. Their sincere enthusiasm, love and concern for the children is such an encouraging and inspiring reminder of the goodness of humanity and the power we all have within to effect change in the world. Ms Tiffany Sykes, pictured here passing the torch to Tanyah, is one of those people. Thank you Tiffany and the many others who inspire us all to be better people!
Some of these children helped to plant the Peace Tree last year, so it was wonderful they could be present for the inauguration.
A big thank you to School Councilor, John Casey, pictured centre holding the Peace Torch, who was instrumental in planning our visit.
"Mr Troy" led the kids in a fun peace walk/run.
Mr Troy led us to another tree recently planted in memory of a young student who was shot and killed in April 2021. Her name was Jaslyn "Pinky" Adams. We had a prayerful moment here.
Our next stop was another local garden just down the road, part of the Monticello Block Club. We were surprised and deeply moved to find a large contingent of Police Officers from the 11th District waiting for us!
We all introduced The Peace Run and ourselves, and enjoyed meeting and connecting with the Officers and local community.
Arpan shares the torch with Sargent Reyes.
This event was organised by our good friend, Patti Carrillo.
About four years ago, longtime resident Patricia Carrillo and her neighbors formed Monticello Block Club and started hosting safety walks and neighborhood cleanups. Carrillo and other neighbors said they’ve noticed positive changes since the block club mobilized. People are starting to come out of their homes more and have become more comfortable in the area, they said.
Carrillo, a West Humboldt Park resident of 17 years, is helping launch other block clubs in the neighborhood.
“We want to change not just our blocks; we want to change our whole community,” she said.
Our new tree has two plaques- one in English and one in Spanish. She read the Spanish, and Pradhan read the English.
We passed the torch and shared our prayers and hopes for peace in this community and around the world.
The park has big photos on the surrounding fences, celebrating many local events that have been held there.
Another wonderful community gathering- Thank you Patti and all your friends!
11th District Harrison Commander, Davina Ward, spontaneously and eloquently offered us a powerful prayer for peace- thank you Commander Ward!!
We presented the 11th Disrict Harrison with an artwork by Peace Run Founder, Sri Chinmoy, entitled "Peace is Priceless"
Local peace Run Coordinator, Sukantika Donovan, with Patti Carrillo, Commander Ward and Sargent Jackson.
Monticello Block Club member, Elida Carrizoza, led us to inaugurate the tree planted outside her house.
Elida told us how this area has become safer since the tree was planted. We were so moved to hear this!
We were delighted and mind-blown to meet the incredible Andrew Christen.
In recent years, West Humboldt Park residents have organized safety walks and cleanups to reclaim the area and make it safer. Resident Andrew Christen is taking that a step further with “serious, hardcore guerrilla gardening,” planting wildflowers, fruit trees and herb and vegetable beds on every unused city-owned parcel along Monticello between Cameron Elementary, 1234 N. Monticello Ave., and Chicago Avenue.
With help from neighbors and the organization Blocks Together, Christen said he hopes the blast of greenery also will help neighbors grow their own produce and tackle another persistent problem: food insecurity.
“I’ve lived here for 10 years. I thought, ‘Let’s just blow it up and try something radical.’ What if I gave 40 hours a week to doing this … and see what comes of it,” Christen said.
Christen is uploading all of the plantings to an app called Falling Fruit, which tracks urban food sources around the world. Once the gardens are in full bloom and there are fruits and vegetables aplenty, Christen wants to partner with local food banks, corner stores and chefs so West Siders benefit from the produce.
The overall goals are to create more green space and promote the importance of sustainable agriculture and healthy eating, he said.
“Having fresh herbs to cook with is huge because the No. 1 killer on the West and South sides isn’t violence; it’s salt and sugar,” Christen said.
This woman, Tomasa, lives near our forth tree in the Monticello Block area. This is a fairly new tree which is still waiting for a plaque. She told us she is really praying the presence of this tree will help bring peace to her street. We all took a moment to pray, and she was moved to note that during our prayer a group of drug dealers who are troubling her drove away.
Thank you all for so warmly welcoming us and spreading peace in West Humboldt Park!
Sevak also lives in this area!!
Our final stop of the day was to visit one of the original Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree at Wentworth Gardens. This tree was planted back in 2012, and at 10 years old it is growing magnificently!
We have come here several times with the Peace Run so many of us have fond memories of the children and dedicated workers and servers we have met over the years.
Time to pass the torch...
Oliveria and this young boy share a special moment with the tree.
This beautiful photo is from our last Peace Run visit to Wentworth Gardens, back in 2018.
We headed inside to continue our program.
Skits are always fun!
The kids even did their own skit for us!
Peace for sure!
Arpan is still one of the kids!
Our good friend and long-time Peace Run supporter, Park Supervisor Drennon Jones, shares the torch and his love with the children. Thank you Drennon and everyone we have met today - you have inspired us more than you could ever imagine!!
A moment's peace
can and shall
make the world beautiful.
Torch carried by Arpan DeAngelo(United States),
Harita Davies(New Zealand),
Kevin Carroll(United States),
Lunthita Duthely(United States),
Mayankinee Landy(United States),
Mudavati Arksey(United States),
Pradhan Balter(United States),
Prema Jackson(United States),
Sukantika Donavan(United States).