On Saturday, the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District and Project I.V. Love held the I.V. Love and Remembrance Garden dedication ceremony for the six victims of the events of May 23 last year at a ceremony in the newly planted garden at People’s Park.
UCSB administrators, students and Associated Students, county officials and representatives from participating organizations, such as Woodstock’s Pizza, Santa Barbara Forge + Iron and Seaborn Designs spoke at the event, officially opening the newly renovated park. The previous weekend, volunteers planted saplings and constructed a walking path through People’s Park around six benches with unique patterns representing the interests of each victim of the May 23 tragedy. Project I.V. Love founder and UCSB alumnus Jordan Killebrew, fourth-year art major Caila Baltas and fourth-year art major Jonathan Holcomb designed the benches and were present at the dedication.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the garden is a “healing” place for the community to reflect on their memories of the victims.
“This is a place where I think all of us can … sit here and connect with those precious lives, our friends, our fellow students who left us way too soon in their lives,” Yang said.
Killebrew said while the idea for the garden initially stemmed from his feelings of hopelessness following the tragedy, he appreciates the ability to honor the victims through the project.
“It was way too close to home for me,” Killebrew said. “A year ago I would never have imagined this would happen and I’m just so happy that I have the opportunity to do something for the victims that we lost.”
I.V. Open Lab instructor and spatial art professor Kim Yasuda said the circular design of the benches represents unity and “togetherness.”
“The curves on the benches, if we were to put them in a circle, they form a perfect circle and the unity of those six students and imagining that for me is very, very comforting and very healing,” Yasuda said.
Fourth-year biopsychology major Sam Spinner said he believes the memorial garden will have a lasting, positive impact on the community.
“I think it’s great,” Spinner said. “I think we really needed something memorable for the next students to come here and realize how big of an impact this event made on us. It’s beautiful and all the benches are amazing.”
Fourth-year theater and film & media studies double major Kirsten Nygaard said the garden is an important step towards the regrowth of I.V. after the events of May 23 last year.
“I think it’s really wonderful that they were able to create something for the community to heal and to grow and to remember life and love,” Nygaard said.
Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said I.V. is stronger and more united than she has ever seen it in her time as supervisor.
“I am always proud to represent Isla Vista,” Farr said. “But in the seven years I have represented this community I have never been prouder of Isla Vista than I am at this moment.”