By Brianna Bell, Alliance Intern from Smith College and Alliance President Terry Gips
To honor the Third Anniversary for the Memorial of George Floyd, we want to share the inspiring story of Jay Webb. He knew George and took on the responsibility of being the gardener and caretaker of George Floyd Square, the site of the murder and Memorial that has become an international symbol for justice, peace and healing. Webb spoke at the Alliance’s Fortieth Anniversary and gave the Board and staff a tour of the Square. He is a general contractor helping build group homes for the unhoused who moved to Minneapolis 12 years ago and became interested in mind and body healing through functional medicine, opening Heartfelt Holistic pharmacy, the first holistic pharmacy in the US.
When Webb heard about the murder of George Floyd, he came to the site to support the community and process their shared trauma. He brought aromatherapy with essential oils like lavender and tea tree to help people heal and safeguard them from Covid, according to MPR. To further the healing, he used his contracting skills to remediate the soil and plant organic gardens, including one at the center of the Square at 38th and Chicago. It continued to grow as people from around the world came to pay homage. Webb created a nursery and got “recycled” flowers, then helped each person plant one so they can be a living part of the Memorial. He gives visitors a seed packet to take and plant back home.
In the pre-dawn hours of June 2021, Minneapolis Public Works came to remove the Memorial. Webb got a tip and stood guard. As the crew began the process, this gentle giant “spoke quietly to all their hearts.” He shared, “This is the work from one man to another man who can never ever breathe again or stand again. This is so people couldn’t say they didn’t know or never say it didn’t happen.” Webb’s inspiring words moved the supervisor and the workers so much that they agreed it was only right to leave the structures up for others to experience. One man spoke truth to power and made a difference.
Jay Webb continues to stand tall and share the magic, both seen and unseen, of George Floyd Square. We honor him for preserving and expanding the memory of George Floyd while building on his legacy by touching people across the globe by spreading his positive energy to others. As he shares, “I am seeking to solidify a thousand year plan to promote peace and harmony and educate many generations to come about the importance of organic farming and soil remediation to promote the healing of all God’s Earth and people.”
Here is just a snippet of some of the profound wisdom Jay Webb shared with us that is captured in the video we’ll share in an upcoming newsletter.
“Don’t despise small beginnings.”
“It took a vision, a collective vision.”
“We have no titles just tasks.”
“World peace happened…the whole world focused on one point, right over there [George Floyd Memorial]. Every Nation came out to support.”
“You don’t need a country, or a flag, or a political party to create world peace. You just need people that want peace.”
“It’s like a bee hive: We collect and we take out peace and that’s what we represent.”
“What’s more valuable: A pound of dirt or a pound of gold? Most people say a pound of gold, but not to a seed. You can’t eat gold, you can’t change the world with gold, you can with dirt.”
“Do not doubt your words of encouragement or your words of positivity because they can encourage an impulse.”
“Who did you think they were going to send to change the world? It’s us and it’s now.”