News Release

Friends of Ganondagan

In considering a thoughtful response to the pandemic, this summer, Friends of Ganondagan is presenting “Earth Altars,” a new community project designed to help build bridges between diverse communities and individuals by honoring life, death, sorrow, healing, and celebration.

“This year has been unlike any other,” said Friends of Ganondagan Program Manager Jeanette Jemison. “It’s been one of the most eventful, unpredictable and challenging years in recent history. Although many of us would like to forget 2020, doing so would minimize our need to process what we have been through both collectively and individually.”

In order to help process the pandemic experiences, Haudenosaunee artists and naturalists will build six altars during June at various locations throughout Ganondagan’s trails/grounds. Locations will be shared on Ganondagan’s website and on a shared Instagram page with hashtag #earthaltarsroc. 

Ganondagan will also have eight satellite location altars around Rochester created by those from the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQ, Disabled, and Refugee communities, among others. Ganondagan also encourages individuals to create personal altars to cope with loss, promote healing, and encourage celebration, while embracing our shared interconnectedness.

Altars will be completed by June 26. Throughout July and August, Ganondagan will promote visitation to any of the altars that specify their location on Instagram with #earthaltarsroc, including these community partners:

  • 21st Century Arts
  • The Gandhi Institute
  • Rochester City School District (RCSD) - School #19
  • Refugees Helping Refugees
  • Luticha Andre Doucette - Disability Rights Advocate
  • Create Wellness Opportunities (Mental Health Association of Rochester)
  • Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo)
  • Flower City Arts

Rachel Y. DeGuzman, founder and executive director of 21st Century Arts Inc. noted “the struggle for social justice is as spiritual as it is a physical journey. We are pleased to join Ganondagan and other community organizations in erecting an altar of peace — as a respite from the toxicity of hate and a space to pause and connect with our common humanity.”

Ganondagan encourages individuals from the entire community to reflect on and interact with the Earth Altars through social media, poems, messages, and/or sharing about their loss, healing, and/or moments of joy.

“Our hope is that Ganondagan’s Earth Altars Community Project will provide safe spaces for us to connect, understand and process our experiences,” said Jemison, “while reflecting on the hurdles we’ve overcome, and celebrating the joy and the bright spots.”