Radical Joy Revealed
October 14, 2015

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.

Buddhist worshipers and Oakland street shrine
Buddhist worshipers in front of the shrine inaugurated by a man who just wanted to brighten up a problem neighborhood. Photo by Dan Chin, San Francisco Chronicle
All Oakland resident Dan Stevenson wanted when he bought the stone Buddha at a local Ace hardware store and set it down in the median strip near his home was to put something a little uplifting in a place riddled with prostitution, drug dealing, burglaries, and aggravated assault.
But instead of merely serving as something nice for passersby to glance at, the Buddha began to transform the neighborhood. First Buddhist worshipers of Vietnamese descent began to leave offerings of flowers, food, and candles at the base of the statue. Then they began to congregate there to pray. Someone brought prayer mats. Others painted the Buddha. A shrine was built especially to house the Enlightened One. 
That was in 2009. Since then crime in the area has decreased by an astonishing 82 percent. People have stopped smearing walls with graffiti and dumping their garbage. The drug dealers and prostitutes have left. Robberies have just about ceased. 
"It's become this icon for the whole neighborhood," said Stevenson. "There's a lot of people that are not Buddhist that really come and just talk in front of him, they walk their dogs, they stand there--it's a place where people meet and talk. It's just cool."

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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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