Chicago students turn parking lot into meditation garden for veterans

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Some Chicago students had a vision for some property in the West Englewood neighborhood. (WLS)

Some Chicago students had a vision for some property in the West Englewood neighborhood.

They wanted a meditation garden for veterans and they made that vision a reality.

In West Englewood, what was a parking lot a year ago is now a meditation garden where veterans can come to sit, think and find peace.

"This is where I get my peace of mind at," said Vietnam veteran Edward Brown.

"All these guys are from different parts of the city, and I met them here at this garden, so the fellowship with these veterans has been awesome," said veteran Ronald Stacy.

The architects are students at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. From a computer design exercise in class, they gave birth to a vision. They designed and then built the pergolas and planter boxes, and with donated material and property, a parking lot is now a place of spiritual healing for veterans.

"A lot of people don't really know what they've suffered through and what they're suffering now, so having this space that's kind of dedicated to them I felt was something necessary," said Lindblom student Danica Jayco.

"It's really surreal to just be here and see something that we started on paper, like here it is, it's big and real life and people are affected by it," said Lindblom student Erin Nwachukwu.

Affected in a neighborhood where good deeds are so often smothered by headlines about crime.

"Just being able to provide hope for this community after so many years of struggles, it just really makes me proud that I'm giving people a sense of hope and healing," said student Devon Montgomery.

The garden at 57th and Hermitage is actually just a beginning and an inspiration for other veterans' gardens.

"I understand that there's going to be a very large garden next to a veterans facility in Joliet next year, all because they came here and saw what was happening here," said Lindblom teacher Lawrence Bass.

Two other sites are planned in the city.

"Ideas are not just the providence of older people," said veteran Issa Umi. "It shows that younger people are alive and well."

Ideas can grow great things, sometimes beyond imagination.

"I saw none of this happening, so I'm just blown away like everyone else that oh, wow, who knew, but I'm really happy, really happy about it," said Blass.

And so too are many others.

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memorial dayChicago - West Englewood
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