When Dr. Arun Gandhi landed in Chattanooga on Monday afternoon, his first stop was a visit to the Westside and the Renaissance Community Garden.
Although it was raining, Dr. Gandhi briefly visited the community garden that Burundian refugees have nurtured and with their care it is flourishing—a metaphor for growing a community. A bench in the garden commemorates the visit with the inscription—“In the Garden of Good and Evil, Choose the Good—A Season for Nonviolence.” The community garden bench marking this occasion was made possible by City Councilman Manny Rico and Rico Monuments. From the garden, Dr. Gandhi visited with Westside residents indoors at the Chattanooga Housing Authority community center and spent time listening to residents—much like his grandfather did in India.
EAC Administrator Missy Crutchfield explained more about Dr. Gandhi’s first day in Chattanooga: “From the airport to our EAC Heritage House Arts & Civic Center and then driving through East Chattanooga, East Lake Courts, and down Main Street around John Henry’s sculpture park and Cypress Corners development, we made our way from one end of the city to the other sharing with Dr. Gandhi our Chattanooga story of faith, hope, and belief in ones community through change and transformation.
"When we arrived in the Westside for Dr. Gandhi’s first stop, it was pouring down rain, but we still walked out to the community garden that has been brought back to life by the love and care of a Burundian refugee family who lives nearby and who have inspired the entire neighborhood. A bench was installed to commemorate this visit with the inscription, “In the Garden of Good and Evil, Choose the Good.”
"As we entered the Chattanooga Housing Authority community center to greet the residents their faces were filled with hope, strength, passion, and belief in their community. This is their home. And they believe they can be the change. Dr. Gandhi spoke with them of the life and legacy of his grandfather, a legacy he has dedicated his entire life to. The mission is simple—nonviolence. No political party, no one community, no country has ownership of the philosophy of nonviolence. We must all embrace it as part of the solution. Right here in Chattanooga we have a moment, we have this week to paint a picture of a brighter future and to connect our community, connect the dots to nonviolence, and begin this work now.”