In 2009, Dan Stevenson, a resident in Oakland, California’s crime-ridden Eastlake neighbourhood bought a 2-foot-high Buddha statue from a local hardware store and installed it on a median strip on an off-street in a residential area.
“It was just like a dump,” Stevenson said of the median then covered in trash. “And it just got tiring.”
Remarkably, Stevenson’s small gesture helped to transform the neighbourhood.
Residents started leaving flowers and candles at the base of the statue. Vietnamese women in prayer robes started regularly gathering at the Buddha to pray. What was once just a statue transformed into a shrine.
“There’s no garbage now,” Stevenson told NBC News in 2012. “There’s no graffiti, it’s just a lot of people just respect the area.”
Thanks to the powerful epoxy holding it in place, the Buddha survived a robbery attempt soon after it was installed. In 2012, thanks to community opposition, the Public Works Department gave up its mission to remove it.
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