Washington Gladden

Purpose of the Park

The park is to be an oasis of hope where past achievements for social justice are recognized and current struggles are revealed.  The park is open to all who are willing to offer open minds, regardless of beliefs and views, to seek understanding of diverse interests and promote the common good.  It is to be a safe haven for those feeling oppressed as well as a starting point for all to build the path to a better future. It is a place where the community intentionally can come and journey together through art, education, and constructive dialogue to explore ways to bring justice to situations that can’t be ignored if we aspire to be a healthy and caring community where diversity is celebrated.   Social justice occurs when a caring community comes together regardless of sacrifice or risk, to empower the oppressed, to seek equity for all, and to lift up human dignity.

The park interrupts the hustle and bustle of downtown to provide a place full of beauty and meaning.  Through a planned interpretive path, the park will reveal inspiring quotes to offer reflection and guidance on the meaning of social justice. Through intended public art installations, the park will add to the adjoining community arts campus, but with a unique focus:  social justice art.

Through education programs and special exhibits, the park brings awareness to issues and allows participants to discern what constructive actions should be taken to improve our community.  Instead of advocating for specific positions on major social concerns, the park’s focus is to promote awareness, understanding, and engagement so that those who are strangers can become neighbor and friend while building community, one conversation at a time.