The Friends of the Labyrinth at Peace Memorial Rose Garden spoke to the Garden Club of Jacksonville on June 6 about how they are working to install a beautiful meditative path in an underutilized city park, turning it into a space for introspection and education.
Peace Memorial Rose Garden Park is located across from the Willowbranch Library in the Riverside section of Jacksonville between Mallory and Cherry streets. In 1916, the site was part of the city’s initial 13-acre purchase for the land to create Willowbranch Park. The Garden Club of Jacksonville conceived of the idea for planting the site with peace roses in 1950, as a symbol of “world peace” following World War II. After the city’s planting of 200 rose bushes, the park was dedicated in April 1951 and became widely acclaimed for its beauty and charm. Unfortunately, roses are no longer growing in the park, which now provides an open expanse of lawn with a few venerable trees and a single bench. Two stone markers placed on the grounds in 1958 and 1960 by chapters of the American War Mothers offer reminders of the inspiration that led to the park’s creation.
Labyrinths boast a long, global history. The oldest recorded labyrinth is the 7-circuit “Classical Labyrinth,” which is also referred to as the “Cretan Labyrinth” and “Minoan Maze” in Crete, Greece.
Unlike a maze, which is designed to be a puzzle, a labyrinth has one entrance and one central endpoint, with continuous pathways between. Instead of seeking a way out or becoming lost, a walker is encouraged towards introspection. The labyrinth is a path inviting the walker to take a “pilgrimage.” With this in mind the Friends of the Labyrinth at Peace Memorial Rose Garden have based their design on a classic 9th-century labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France.
Labyrinths are used worldwide as a way to quiet the mind, calm anxieties, recover balance in life, enhance creativity and encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection, and stress reduction. The Friends of the Labyrinth at Peace Memorial Rose Garden are looking to the UN’s Sustainable Development agenda, particularly the following three goals:
- 3. Good Health and Well Being
- 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
- 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
The construction of a labyrinth facilitates all three of these goals by promoting health and well being, supporting sustainable communities by providing an accessible public activity, and promoting peace through meditation.
The Peace Memorial Rose Garden labyrinth will be placed on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator, placing it alongside many other international labyrinths and allowing it to be located from anywhere in the United States.
Landwise Design was selected to create a rendering of the project. This rendering features a 40-foot-wide, wheelchair-accessible, 11-circuit labyrinth, with a rosette in the center as a nod to the park’s history. Three brick paths, which will feature names of donors to the project, lead to the labyrinth. The Dolores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund has pledged $25,000 toward the project.
Friends of the Labyrinth
The Friends of the Labyrinth at Peace Park is a grassroots citizen committee formed in partnership with the City of Jacksonville and the Riverside Avondale Preservation. Their goal is to create a professionally built labyrinth at the Peace Memorial Rose Garden in historic Riverside. The purpose of this park is to help enhance the history of the park and to create an interactive meditative environment for the community to enjoy.
Hazel Clery: History of the Park and Friends of the Labyrinth’s Plans for its Renovation
After growing up in England, Hazel Clery moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to join the International Air Transport Association. She came to the U.S. to work at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and moved to Jacksonville in 1978. Hazel is active in the Riverside community, helping to create the first Garden Tour with RAP, and is a founding member of Friends of the Labyrinth.
Ruth Thompson: Labyrinth Uses for Mindfulness, Health and Wellbeing
Ruth Thompson is a fifth generation Floridian from Jacksonville. She has lived abroad in the Bahamas where she owned a floral business and returned to Jacksonville in 2006. Ruth is a full-time beekeeper, running her business Bee Grateful Apiaries with her daughter Zoe. She volunteers at DESC and mentors beekeeping at Christ the King School.
Sarah Sharpe: Outreach to Schools and Youth Use of the Labyrinth
Sarah Sharp brings many decades of teaching experience, a deep background in many historical topics and research, as well as a strong curiosity to her activities with Friends of the Labyrinth. She lived in Philadelphia for more than 30 years, and taught history and global studies full-time at the high school level through 2016. She also consulted on World Heritage City projects until late 2021. Sarah moved to Jacksonville early in 2022 to be wheree her daughter and granddaughter live.
Sharon Qualls: Experience of Labyrinths in Her Travels
Sharon Qualls moved to and made her home in the beaches area of Jacksonville from Northern Illinois 19 years ago. Sharon has enjoyed a lifetime career in business ownership, a knack for start-up projects, and the joy of volunteering on community projects. She shares her love and joy with her family of two children and three beautiful grandchildren, and her many circles of friends.