ENCINITAS — The Seaside Center for Spiritual Living is including the creation of a community garden in its participation of the annual season for nonviolence.
Sandy Atkinson, one of the founding members of the church and the director of Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, said the idea for a community garden has been in the works for a long time.
“One part of healing and coming together is through gardening,” Atkinson said. “We have all of this land that is fallow and perfect for gardening.” The acre of land is ripe for planting.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea. It’s cool that the community will be involved in the whole process,” said Yogi Parmar, a member of the congregation.
The land was officially dedicated Feb. 22 and a planning committee is forming new ideas and strategies to develop the garden.
While the long-term plan is to open the garden to the entire community, the members of the church get first dibs. “This is part of a bigger movement (for community gardening),” Atkinson said.
As the congregation begins to gather resources to develop the garden, Atkinson said she is excited at the prospects for all of the uses of the garden.
“Eventually, we would like to take the excess food and donate it,” she said.
Atkinson said the benefits of community gardening fit well within the spirit of the 14th annual International Season for Nonviolence. The period officially began Jan. 30 and continues through April 4 as a 64-day educational, media and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform and empower lives and communities.
Azim Khamisa presented a workshop March 13 that followed the three steps he used to help heal his own heart and live life with grace and joy after his son was shot down in a hail of gang violence. Attendees learned effective ways to acknowledge where relationships need healing, find ways to forgive and dissolve resentments and create an internal place of love and compassion.
Khamisa also spoke during the two services prior to his workshop. Several people were moved by his message of forgiveness.
While Parmar said she was aware of his story, she had not heard him speak before.
“It was just amazing how things have shifted from where he was in all of the pain and how he now spreads a message of peace and understanding around the world,” she said.
“More people should hear this story so that the world could be a better place, we can learn that peace is possible,” Parmar said.
Her husband Beejal made an instant connection with Khamisa. “It’s probably the most authentic talk on peace I’ve heard from someone who’s had to go through it,” Beejal said. “It’s such a powerful story about forgiveness.”
In the richest country in the world, the statistics on youth-related gang violence are alarming.
“There’s an illusion that we’re living in a peaceful country,” Beejal said. However, when 250 people die in the United States each day due to gang violence, he said there is a disconnect with reality. “It really comes down to how individuals are creating peace in their own lives.”
Khamisa started the TKF Foundation to implement peace-building techniques. For more information, visit tkf.org.