Fourteen years have passed since sixteen-year-old Troy Chavez was dropped off at the hospital after being shot, a victim of gangland crossfire. Although no one was ever charged in the case, the Chavez family was able to find some closure in the Troy Chavez Memorial Peace Garden.
There may be no better metaphor for Denver's gang problem than the peace garden, created by Troy's family after the so-called Summer of Violence launched gangs to the top of the city's priority list in 1993, and in its early days, people poured out by the dozens to help tend the plot's herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. But as other urban issues began to trump gangbanging, resources were diverted and volunteers dwindled. Now, with Denver's rejuvenated focus on gangs (dubbed the Summer of Peace campaign), new energy is being tilled into the garden.
"We are trying to give tradition back to our young people," says Troy's mother, Ana Chavez de Quintana. "They don't know about their ancestors, they don't know about their people, and when you're culturally deprived, you make your own culture so we're trying to show them the teachings of their people, it's a sacred piece of land in the heart of the city. I'm not naturally a gardener; it's the path my son chose for me."
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The memory of Troy and other children whose lives were taken by violent acts will be honored today, beginning with a meal at 6 p.m. and continuing with a traditional Native American ceremony at 7, at the garden, 3825 Shoshone Street.
Sat., July 7, 7 p.m.