The Peace Garden Ribbon Cutting and Celebration will be held Friday, June 1 from 4pm to 6pm at the Basalt High School. Presenters include elected officials from Eagle County, Pitkin County and the Town of Basalt, principal Peter Mueller, Jim and Dianne Light and garden creator Mauricio Sosa. Student Josef Lloyd will perform peace music and refreshments and appetizers donated by Whole Foods will be served. The event is open to the public.
The Peace Garden, a 40’ x 73’ area along the front wall at the high school facing the Rio Grande Trail, is the vision of senior student Mauricio Sosa who wanted to create a quiet space for students to relax and feel at peace.
“I was bullied from a young age and always wanted a safe place that I could go to get away and think,” Mauricio said. In 2015, Mauricio got permission from Basalt High School administrators to convert a grassy, high-water area into a garden with meandering paths, rocks, plants and seating. He raised more than $44,000 for the structural first phase which was completed in 2016.
During senior year, amid final exams, college applications and scholarship appeals, Mauricio launched phase two of the project to make the garden more inviting for students, visitors and classes. This included the addition of lighting, permanent seating, shade structures, new plants, art and signage. The pathways and irrigation are being upgraded to reduce maintenance and Mauricio will work through the summer to create a long-term sustainability plan.
Mauricio’s planning team includes Kate Bradley, Basalt High School Librarian, and Robin Waters, his Capstone and project community mentor. Pre-collegiate mentors, Jim and Dianne Light, have worked with Mauricio, and other students, since eighth grade. The project has attracted dozens of donors and in-kind supporters from around the valley.
All three nearby governing bodies – Eagle County, Pitkin County and the Town of Basalt – have contributed funds, along with such wide-ranging organizations as 5 Point Film Dream Project, Twisted Tree Landscaping, Holy Cross Energy, CORE, the Aspen Thrift Store and Schuss and Rittvo Family foundations. DHM Design is preparing a vision sketch to be displayed at the event and Pattillo Associates Engineers has volunteered to assist with the final structural components. The United Way Battlement to the Bells recently brought out VISTA volunteers, and students have placed colorful Peace Art rocks. (See complete donor list attached.)
“The Peace Garden at Basalt High School is a story of mental strength and resilience,” said Waters. “Mauricio is a shining example of a young man who transformed his unfortunate experiences into something positive, a healing project for himself and a gift to others.
“Mauricio and his positive message have brought together people from around the valley and across the country,” Waters added. “Especially in the current climate, The Garden stands as a symbol of hope and offers a model to schools and communities in Colorado and around the country.”
Mauricio plans to share his vision beyond Basalt High School and the Roaring Fork Valley to other schools, communities and organizations. As part of his senior Capstone Project, he is writing an instruction manual, complete with budget, grant applications and process summary, plus a project video filmed by Emmy Award-winning videographer Barry Stevenson to share on social media and via press releases around the country.
Those attending the June 1 ribbon cutting are invited, but not required, to bring “peace art” such as painted rocks, garden structures, outdoors decor and drought-tolerant plants. RSVPs are requested and may be submitted at this link: http://evite.me/4h8eHAJkxw
Additional funds are needed for the final phase. Those who would like to help Mauricio complete and share The Peace Garden may send checks to Basalt High School (Peace Garden) at 600 Southside Drive, Basalt, CO 81621 or through the GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/thepeacegarden
For updates on Mauricio’s progress, Facebook users can visit and like the new Peace Garden Facebook Page https://m.facebook.com/ThePeaceGardenBasaltCO/
Supporters are encouraged to share The Peace Garden page and message to friends around the country, so others can learn and create their own gardens.