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Lotus Sanctuary

The Red Gate Community Garden is located on the southwestern corner of Willoughby and Marcy Avenues in Bedford- Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. The Green Thumb Garden, an association of community garden projects on city owned land managed by the Parks Department was established in 1994 by James Williams - a long time resident. The Lotus Sanctuary was designed and built by Michael Lee Poy to commemorate the 1964 boycott of a liquor store that opened in close proximity to a junior public school (PS23). Residents of the Willoughby/Nostrand/Marcy Avenue Block Association picketed the store for months. Eventually, a fire consumed the building and it was subsequently demolished and left vacant for years. The establishment of a sanctuary serves to consecrate the site and honour the protesters; my great aunt Claris Boxill and her uncle William Clarck and their neighbors Roosevelt Williams, James Williams, Mr. Marcano, Mr. Murray and Mr. Joyner (and others). The lotus flower was used as the organizing design concept principle. To depict the journey of life, from the bottom up ‘Lotus’ is designed in tiers, using materials which progress from natural to processed. These tiers function as steps and seating. The base and center are made of cobblestone and found rocks respectively. These represent the core stability and strength which uphold us in the face of adversity. The second tier is Bluestone and brick which signify different degrees of refinement or the increased awareness gained from rising to challenges. This unfolds onto the final tier or altar – an intricate floral mosaic of precious marbles. This exquisite material fitting for an altar is associated with the prestigious architecture of many great civilizations. Here, it is also symbolic of the crowning glory of a triumphant community.

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