How Does Your Garden Grow

Anthropologist Johnnetta Cole said, “You cannot fully understand your own life without knowing and thinking beyond your life, your own neighborhood, and even your own nation.”

When you look at the LGBT community as a whole, perhaps the one true disconnect is with the transgender or “T” community. Many times we think of transitions as something only the transgender/transsexual community goes through. Garden of Peace Project seeks to increase the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of all people, including the most vulnerable, marginalized populations, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

On October 17-20, the Garden of Peace Project (GPP) is holding a conference that they are hoping will open hearts and minds. The “Exploration of Self Conference” will be held at Carnegie Mellon University and will include trainings and workshops, meet and greets, and a host of special events. The keynote speaker is AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, known for her performance in the original Broadway play “Dreamgirls” and on television as Moesha’s mother.

According to founder and director Michael David Battle, “Garden of Peace Project was founded in memory of my maternal grandparents William H. and Chaney Josephine Riddick, and my paternal grandmother, Irene Battle. As spiritual people, they allowed their “exploration of self” fuel their kindness, humanitarianism, and altruism toward all others. Their gentleness and love for others have guided me throughout life.”

It is this same gentle love and kindness that Garden of Peace Project hopes will restore the relationship between the spiritual, HIV positive, and LGBT communities.

Today, Garden of Peace Project offers four monthly programs: Town hall meetings, which bring together service providers and community members to discuss community issues; free health and wellness nights, which invite providers to give community members an opportunity to access free health screenings, financial planning workshops, massages, etc.; a performance series dedicated to local artists who perform poetry, music, or performing arts; and, a training series that includes 15 different trainings and workshops, including personal perspectives, Strategic Planning for the LGBTQIA and HIV+ Community, and How to Work with LGBTQIA and HIV+ Students and Youth.

For more information, visit gardenofpeaceproject.org or facebook.com/gardenofpeaceproject

Anastasia has a passion for human rights and all things glittery. The goal of her obsession with proper grammar and literature is to write full time. In her free time, Anastasia plays with her pitbull, Rose.