On October 18, 2015, a group of around 60 members of the trans community and our allies transformed a vacant lot on the corner of Vandeventer and Hunt into a beautiful garden to honor the lives of transgender people that have been lost to violence and to celebrate the lives we spend together.
The idea began earlier that year when local activist, Leon Braxton learned of PlantforPeaceSTL, an organization that donates trees to show solidarity and comradery among neighbors. Leon’s vision was to plant a garden to bring attention to the violence against the trans community. Thirty Four trees were donated and the Metro Trans Umbrella Group collected donations for the purchase of plants from Missouri Wildflower Nursery for a butterfly garden.
Monte Abbott, a volunteer master gardener, designed the garden with a planting of Hackberry Trees and Redbud Trees with a winding path through the garden ending in a community circle. A garden was planted with native Missouri plants designed to attract bees and butterflies to the garden. The path and community circle is a reference to a peaceful journey with an uncertain but peaceful destination. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation in the Trans community.
Garden Director Jarek Steele crafted the entrance sign out of cedar inscribed with the quote from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos – “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
Below is the story as told by Jarek Steele at the dedication ceremony on Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20, 2015.