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HILLS & GARDENS: Peace walk as an Uniter

The Children of Abraham Peace Walk is an annual interfaith joining of hands established in 2003.  The initiative, which focuses on a different Brooklyn neighborhood each year, is a way to celebrate human commonality rather than difference, standing up to the hatred that engendered 9/11 and the repercussions that followed that awful day.

The 2012 Children of Abraham Peace Walk took place in Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights on September 11, beginning at the Kane Street Synagogue, where I met Sally Hipscher and Celia Deutsch.  Hipscher lives in Midwood and is the interfaith coordinator for her synagogue.  Deutsch is from Flatbush, serving her church in the same way.  The two have made a habit of attending 9/11 memorial events together and believe that the Peace Walk is an important way to bring neighbors together as a community. 

The second stop that day was Christ Church on Kane and Court streets, the historic Episcopal church where the death of local resident Richard Schwartz occurred on July 26, when lightning hit the scaffolded building.  Since the tragedy, Christ Church has held its Sunday worship services at Kane Street.

The group then moved to the Dawood Mosque on State Street, the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue on Remsen, and Plymouth Church on Hicks, before visiting the Middagh Street Firehouse.

The procession concluded on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where so many of us watched the tragedy unfold, and which we visited later to pay our respects.  The Brooklyn Heights Clergy Association has sponsored an interfaith service on the Promenade on the anniversary of 9/11 for a number of years.  The Peace Walk was coordinated to include that service.

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Court Street blooms with Edelweiss.  Photo by Trudy Whitman

It’s next to impossible to pass Court Street’s new flower shop, Edelweiss, without humming the famous song by that name about a little flower from The Sound of Music.  But the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was not Eka Dara’s inspiration.  Edelweiss, it turns out, is an important symbol for many countries other than Austria, where The Sound of Music took place. 

Eka Dara is the proprietor of the Court Street shop.  She explained that in her native country, Georgia, the bloom, which can be white, yellow, or grey, is the last flower found before the frost line in the Caucasus Mountains.  In Georgia, Edelweiss symbolizes both power and kindness, she explained.  Among many lovely flowers, Dara features her beloved Edelweiss, which comes to Brooklyn special delivery from Oregon.  Right now they line the bottom shelf of the refrigerated section waiting for the cold weather in which they thrive.

Dara moved to America ten years ago.  She was a computer designer in Georgia, beginning her working life here at a Russian daily newspaper.  She left that job for one as a manager and bookkeeper in a downtown Manhattan flower shop, loving the idea of being surrounded by scents and vibrant colors every day.  In her free time she began putting floral arrangements together, finding that she had not only a gift but a passion for flower design.

Making the decision to open her own flower shop, Eka Dara and her husband began a market research campaign, surprised to find how different Manhattan and Brooklyn markets were.  Residents of Coney Island, they had not explored our communities before and were taken by how the homes, narrow streets, and large trees reminded them of their own small city in Georgia.

Edelweiss is a full-service floral operation, welcoming sales of single stems to large corporate accounts.  Dara has experience with floral arrangements for parties; small landscapes, such as front and backyards of townhouses; as well as floral design for decks and balconies.  Some of the shop’s suppliers are close to home in Brooklyn, but Edelweiss also imports from Holland, France, and South America.

Eka Dara is delighted by the warm welcome she has received from Hills & Gardens’ residents.  She said she feels a great responsibility to learn what the neighborhood favors in its flowers.  It’s autumn, so the shop is currently featuring mums, hydrangeas, graceful branches, and leaves of different colors.  Stop in to take a look.

Edelweiss Floral Atelier, 164 Court Street, 718 488-9888

September 12, 2012 - 9:20am


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