Bryn Mawr neighbors gathered under bright fall colors Oct. 25 to dedicate a new garden memorializing victims of violence, including those who died two blocks away at Accent Signage in 2012.
One thousand bulbs are planted and ready to bloom next spring at 420 Cedar Lake Rd. S. on the lawn of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.
“I think it’s just a beautiful tribute,” said Shereen Rahamim, widow of Accent Signage founder Reuven Rahamim. “I’m so honored and appreciative of the efforts that went into this. It does become a catalyst for change, for healing, for an end of gun violence. Every week, it’s another family going through what we went through.”
Members of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian wanted a garden dedicated to everyone impacted by violence in the community, explained church elder Richard Bauer.
“If ever there was a need for a garden of hope and healing, it’s been the past couple weeks in our beloved state,” he said.
He cited a Politifact report that said more Americans have died from guns since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history. The report said 1.5 million gun deaths, which encompasses homicides and suicides since 1968, is 120,000 higher than war fatalities dating back to the American Revolution.
Bauer said his own father was murdered 46 years ago, just six blocks away at a small family grocery store at Morgan & Glenwood avenues.
“When you’re impacted by that kind of trauma, it doesn’t go away,” he said. “…Years from now, I hope that we can look forward and somebody sitting on this bench will be moved to action.”
Six stones are embedded around a new limestone bench, representing lives lost at Accent Signage: Rahamim, Rami Cooks, Jacob Beneke, Ron Edberg, Eric Rivers and Keith Basinski. Moonlighting is installed in the trees to light the garden at night.
“It was always meant to be really simple,” said Jason Rathe of Field Outdoor Spaces.
Community volunteers Kathryn Kaatz and Tami Galvin spent the past three years coordinating details related to the garden. Galvin said she and Kaatz have been sewn at the hip since the day after the shooting. Galvin particularly wanted to see a memorial to Keith Basinski, a neighborhood UPS driver.
“Everyone should have known Keith Basinski,” she said.
Brent Basinski, Keith’s son, traveled door-to-door in the neighborhood to help raise donations. Additional contributions came from UPS and the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association (BMNA).
BMNA Board Member Jessica Wiley said it would have been easy to let the tragedy fade into memory.
“They felt that a community needs to honor people that have died in violence,” Wiley said. “And it’s also important for the community to have some cultural history, to know what went on in the neighborhood and to remember and reflect on that. … We want the fabric of our community to be strong and supportive of each other.”
At the October dedication, the group heard songs by Cedar Lake Seven, the men’s gospel choir based at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian.
Bryn Mawr neighbor Scott Monge read an original poem. The following is an excerpt:
…Upon this native land and hallowed ground,
A blessing of our spirit growing to share
Within your sorrow, a path gathered round,
A garden of empathy within the grief you bare.
Live not alone, uprooted in that moment…
Remembrance is the heart’s passion revealing
All the endearing times together spent…
Evermore, in a Garden of Hope and Healing.
“The loss of that day impacted so many,” Bauer said. “Hope and healing is what we have to drive us forward.”