When a seed gets planted at Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), a vision is soon to follow, and through thoughtful planning and motivation, attainment is the result. When the seeds of a surviving Gingko Tree of the Hiroshima atom-bombing in 1945 were planted, the saplings swiftly became symbols of peace and resilience as they were distributed worldwide. Aptly named “Hiroshima Peace Trees” also known as “Hibakujumoku,” one of 53 planted seeds and saplings in Oregon made their way to a location that was a first and only of its kind. With the collaboration of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Project, One Sunny Day Initiative, Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), a Hiroshima Peace Tree was planted on the grounds of the Oregon State Penitentiary, a multi-custody prison in Salem, Oregon.
The OSP Memorial Healing Garden, also a first of its kind, was a natural location for the Peace Tree to be planted. Because of safety and security protocols, and the pruning requirements which would have diminished the potential growth and reach of the Ginkgo tree, a decision was made to plant this tree on the grounds outside of the Penitentiary walls, so it would not be subject to the limits of confinement. Here, it connects the life of the Memorial Healing Garden and adults in custody (AIC) inside with the world and community outside. In the essence of peace and resilience, as the Hiroshima Peace Tree represents, the OSP Memorial Healing Garden Director, AIC, Randy Guzek, shares the wisdom and impact of this historical event at the Dedication Ceremony:
“We continue to be enriched by the presence of the Peace Tree and the Garden in our lives. We continue to be enriched by the community’s presence in our lives. You have taught us that self-love at the soul level is the catalyst for healing at all levels. You have taught us that humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.
Through you, the Healing Garden, and the Peace Tree, we are growing through our incarceration and building our futures upon the fertile soils of love, harmony, humility, and grace. It is upon the foundation of these principles that we genuinely understand how the love of power succumbs to the power of love. The strongest and most formidable bridges are built upon such things. When we embark upon a journey of hope, reconciliation, and transcendence, we promote the light of eternal peace within each other and ourselves.”
The Dedication and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony hosted by OSP was honored to welcome the presence of many inspirational, passionate, impactful, and honored guests. A great extension of gratitude is given to the supporters, administrators, advocates, dignitaries, and affiliates of the OSP Memorial Healing Garden, the Hiroshima Peace Tree project, and the Oregon Department of Corrections. Thank you for your ongoing dedication to the peace and resilience derived from this project, which were born of the seeds that inspired this vision.
Story written by OSP’s Public Information Officer, Stephanie Lane with contributions from the Garden Director, AIC, Randy Guzek.