Yesterday, my daughter asked if I knew someone was building a statue of Ghandi downtown. She said that she and Matt had been driving down Mission Inn Ave. and had noticed a sign announcing it. I was shocked--a statue of Gandhi in Riverside? In our sleepy, conservative, notoriously-meth-lab-ridden town? It didn't seem possible (although we do happily have a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Main St. mall.) I drove down Mission Inn Ave myself today, and saw the construction zone with a "Site of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial" placard prominently displayed on the fence. How very, very cool! Gandhi in Riverside!
I did some searching online and discovered that the statue has been in the works for a long while; Lalit Acharya, who founded the Riverside Mahatma Gandhi Peace Foundation (another thing I didn't know existed in our town!), first proposed the memorial after Riverside cops shot a young black woman sleeping in her car, with a gun on her lap, in 1998. He thought the statue would bring a symbol of peace into a community that desperately needed one. Our mayor--who, I must say, is pretty great; he is accessible, and intelligent, and even drives a Prius--agreed to move forward with it. The statue was sculpted in India and is due to be unveiled next month. I am delighted to know that our downtown will soon honor two great heroes of the peace movement. It will make our community peace work all the more resonant.
Speaking of community peace work, I just learned that my hometown, Chicago, recently became the largest American city to officially oppose the war. Yay Chicago! My kind of town.
This weekend, we're going to turn DC into an anti-war zone. I head out early tomorrow morning, and probably won't have a chance to blog again before then; I'm sure I'll have many stories to tell when I return. Have a safe and happy weekend, everyone...