Buddha in Oakland Changes More Than Neighborhood Aesthetics

In All, Social, Cultural, Political, The Story, UDIN (All), Urban Inspiration, USA & Canada by World Unwrapped

Project Lead: Dan Stevenson (and his wife Lu)

Urban development and community development can be the little things (Link to Tiny Houses Article), and in many cases it’s the little changes that make a big difference. As is the case with this Buddha placed across the street from the house of a man who didn’t know what else to do. But he did something much more important.

Dan intended to change the energy of his neighborhood where there was lots of illegal dumping and graffiti. Although he only intended to change the area, he also changed his community. Once he placed the Buddha on the street offerings started popping up in front of it, pretty soon it became a space full of bouquets and incense, a place for people to pray in the morning. Some of the Vietnamese people in his community take care of the place, sweeping and cleaning it everyday. None of this was initiated by Dan, all he did was place a Buddha across the street.

CRYPTIK, the Facebook page that posted the video, captioned it is as follows:

11th Avenue and East 19th Street was a rough part of town, riddled with an assortment of criminal activities ranging from garbage dumping and vandalization to drug dealing, robberies, prostitution and assaults. Sick of the dystopian environment of the area where he lived—particularly the trash—Dan Stevenson and his wife Lu purchased a stone Buddha statue from a hardware and placed it on the corner. The two hoped that the presence of the statue would bring a sense of serenity to the wretched neighbourhood, or at least that its panoptic gaze would dissuade the garbage dumpers. Little did they know that this minuscule gesture would bring about a ripple effect resulting in a complete transformation of the neighbourhood.

This story represents urban development by accident, or unintentional urban development. While trying to address one issue, Dan and his wife Lu addressed several issues that affect urban areas. By thinking about their community first, they were able to make the energy and environment of the neighborhood better and more peaceful.