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Transform guns into garden tools, Culiacan, Mexico; Pedro Reyes, 2008.

Palas por Pistolas (“shovels for pistols”) was initiated in the city of Culiacán, a city in western Mexico with a high rate of deaths by gunshot. Pedro Reyes writes:

The botanical garden of Culiacán has been comissioning artist to do interventions in the park and my proposal was to work in the larger scale of the city and organize a campaign for voluntary donation of weapons. Several television ads were prepared by the local TV station inviting citizens to give up a were gun and exchange for a coupon. Those coupons could be traded in a local store in exchanges for domestic appliances and electronics.

1527 weapons were collected. 40% of them were high power automatic weapons of exclusive military use. These weapons were taken to a military zone they were crushed by a steamroller in a public act.

The pieces were then taken to a foundry and melted. The metal was sent to a major hardware factory to produce the same number 1527 shovels. The tools were made under specifications such as a handle with a legend telling the story.

This shovels have been distributed to a number of art institutions and public schools where adults and children engage in the action of planting 1527 trees.

This ritual has a pedagogical purpose of showing how an agent of death can become an agent of life.

In this month to consider the place of violence in our times, I direct you to Krista Tippett’s interviewed Shane Claiborne and Omar Saif Ghobash in her podcast titled: Called and Conflicted. Tippett writes:

Spiritual border-crossing and social creativity were themes in a conversation between Shane Claiborne and Omar Saif Ghobash, two people who have lived with some discomfort within the religious groups they continue to love.

Ghobash is a diplomat of the United Arab Emirates and author of Letters to a Young Muslim. One of his responses… has been to bring a new art gallery culture to Dubai, creating spaces for thought and beauty.

Claiborne is… co-founder of The Simple Way, an intentional neighbourhood-based community in North Philadelphia. One of the things he’s doing now is a restorative justice project inspired by a Bible passage — to transform guns into garden tools. This conversation took place at the invitation of Interfaith Philadelphia, which hosted a year of civil conversations modeled after the work of On Being’s Civil Conversations Project.

For more, go to On Being with Krista Tippett: Called and Conflicted.