Flowers building community

Over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that people who give and appreciate flowers are overwhelmingly good, kind people. This latest story we’d like to share, out of Harlem, is no exception. It concerns a grassroots flower vendor who’s been selling flowers on a particular corner of a particular park for 23 years—until the Parks & Recreation department noticed he didn’t have a permit, and squeezed him out.

Christmas flowers: Festive holiday wreathMr. Sonny Gibbs was so beloved by his local community that he was able to gather 700 signatures in a petition and take those right back to the local government. He was then able to hash out an agreement with them that will stop him from being ousted, and he’s back, just in time for Christmas. On his first day back, shoppers swung by to welcome him.

You see, this local flower vendor was more to his community than a nice man who sold flowers. He also taught a couple of generations of kids how to play chess, and was a mentor to many young people. The free chess lessons inspired several people who had learned chess from Mr. Gibbs to back up his petition and make their own appeals.

City Hall was apparently inspired by his story, and decided to work with Mr. Gibbs to get him back up and running. It’s been a five-month journey, but he’s back. He also has his son involved with building a website and handling some of the paperwork he wasn’t able to deal with before.

We love it when a story has a happy ending, and when communities are kept together in this way through common sense and, well, chess and beautiful flowers. Is there someone local to you who uses flowers to help his or her community? We hope you’ll tell us in the comments. Enjoy!

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