By Khalil Saddiq
As the pandemic continues to shape our lives in uncertainty, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty and power in small things, like flowers and planting.
2020 was a transformational year that forced us to reform how we navigate the world. Through personal experiences with trauma we learned about the importance of gratitude, mindfulness and self care. I fell in love with the art of cooking and it raised my curiosity about growing herbs and vegetables. My curiosity has now become a journey of a lifetime in wellness and sustainability.
As a community organizer and racial equity consultant, I am all about tapping into resources that fuel healing, clarity, and sustainability. Chelsea has great community resources. One I am excited about is the Downtown Flower Takeover project that was launched by the city’s DPW office in July 2020 (the Fall planting event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25th at 9:00am, Luther Place). The resident driven program started with the team of David Therrien, Celeste Williams, Regina Taylor and Kaitie Butler, organized and led by Devra Zabot of Chelsea City Creative and most recently, Chelsea based Galdamez Landscaping. I had the privilege of having lunch with Devra to learn more about the project and discovered that there is more to the flowers than meets the eye. The flower program is about beautification, but it is also about our green space and trash challenges and wanting to bring everyone into the conversation.
The large 49” X 50” planters do a wonderful job of beautifying the city’s sidewalks down Broadway but that’s only part of the picture. On a greater level there is also an opportunity to enrich your self care through volunteering. Yes, self care. Self care refers to the process of taking care of oneself by establishing a consistent routine of behavior to improve well-being, preserve health, or to maintain physical and emotional stability.
After our meeting, I decided to get involved in the project and bring some bold beautification ideas to my residence at North Bellingham Veterans Housing. NBVH was established in 2015 after the American Legion building was renovated by TND. NBVH is a small veterans community that houses and supports veterans who had housing challenges.
There is great alignment with the flower project and our small and unique veteran community. We currently have a small garden at our location and a resident who is an active member of the TND beautification team. I’m looking forward to participating in the Downtown Flower event on September 25th as a team leader and I’m excited to meet like-minded residents. In addition to Chelsea City Creative and DPW the project is being produced by GreenRoots and community partners include Chelsea Black Community, La Colaborativa, Beacon Properties, CET and Healthy Chelsea.
In other cities they may just be flower planters, in Chelsea they are much more.
Khalil Saddiq is aÊproud Marine Corps veteran, community activist, trauma informed peer support group facilitator and trainer, racial equity consultant and systems designer. He is the CEO/founder of 901 Consulting, a racial equity consulting group that represents the introduction to the highest level of disciplines needed to achieve sustainability in racial equity. Khalil has been living in Chelsea since 2016.