Radical Joy Revealed
July 13, 2016

Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places. We hope you'll enjoy these doorways into places that are both familiar and surprising, and we welcome your suggestions, stories, and photos. Click here to subscribe. 

Melting guns into shovels
Mexican artist Pedro Reyes uses metal melted down from weapons to form shovels. Photo courtesy of Pedro Reyes

In 2011 the city government of Culiacán in western Mexico decided to launch a contemporary artistic project based on the old biblical exhortation to "beat swords into plowshares." They had a vision of turning guns into shovels.
Palas por Pistolas arose as a response to years of devastating gun violence related to the drug trade. The city with the highest rate of gun violence in the country was Culiacán. With funding by the city government, and support from the community's Botanical Garden, artist Pedro Reyes set about collecting guns from civilians. In return for turning in their weapons, people were offered coupons that they could redeem for electronics and household appliances.
Reyes melted down a total of 1,527 guns and remolded them into an equal number of shovels. Volunteers then used these shovels to plant trees in urban areas affected by violence. By now, this metal, transformed from its prior existence as weapons of violence to tools of regeneration, has by now regreened not only the Botanical Garden in Culiacán, but also neighborhoods in Mexico City, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, each a location where people have been killed by guns.

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Radical Joy for Hard Times is a global community of people dedicated to finding and making beauty in wounded places. Reconnecting with these places, sharing our stories of loss, and making acts of beauty there, we transform the land, reconnect people and the places that nourish them, and empower ourselves to make a difference in the way we live on Earth. 
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