Our campus is located in Rochester’s Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood and features a number of community assets including a meeting space, meditation room, garden, labyrinth, and playground.
We are committed to environmentalism and the efficient use of resources, and strive to embody these convictions on our campus and beyond. We recognize sustainability, in all its forms, as an important tenet of nonviolence and it is among our highest values at the Gandhi Institute. We therefore operate with both the present and future in mind as we work to better the environment, our community, and our organization.
We operate a 24-bed organic vegetable garden and greenhouse on our property. Our space is also home to a small fruit tree orchard and lots of flowers that keep the pollinators happy. We use permaculture principles to work with the natural ecosystem and use organic compost to support healthy, nutrient-rich soil.
Our staff maintains the garden with the generous help of neighbors, youth, and community members. Throughout the summer, we share our produce with our neighbors, delivering bags of produce weekly to households on S Plymouth Ave. and Seward St. and providing parents at School 19 the opportunity to take home groceries during student pick-up time. We also offer workshops on topics such as container gardening and healthy cooking. It is our hope that through these efforts, we will begin to transform the Plymouth-Exchange Neighborhood’s status as a food desert.
Our ongoing Dinners with the Community series gives our many friends and neighbors a chance to come together to connect with one another over a shared meal. These dinners routinely bring together people of all ages and backgrounds, fostering open dialogue among individuals who otherwise might never have met.
Vegetarian dishes are lovingly prepared by our staff and volunteers — the ingredients sourced partially from our garden. We invite participants to donate what they can, though no one is turned away for lack of funds. If someone is in need of a free meal and human connection without the pressure of having to contribute financially, we trust that it will be balanced by those who can give more with ease.
Staff Blog: “Sharing a Meal and the Opportunities it Offers”
Our Conflict Transformation Labyrinth was constructed in 2019 and is located on our campus beside the greenhouse. The design, created by Clare Wilson, comes from South Africa where it was used for reconciliation following Apartheid. The dual paths allow for multiple walkers and provide opportunity for conflict resolution as well as reflection and mindfulness practices.
Our labyrinth is a place where you can connect with nature, yourself, and others. It’s a place where you can be calm or silly, alone or with others. It can be walked in different ways depending on whether you’re seeking calm, fun, or respite from hardship. The possibilities are endless!
In the same year that the labyrinth was built, a new mural, facing the labyrinth, was painted by artists Brittany Williams and Sarah Rutherford. With the help of students from neighboring School No. 19, Brittany and Sarah drew inspiration from the labyrinth and its South African roots. Together, the mural and labyrinth have transformed the back portion of our campus into a beautiful and inviting space.
To date, the labyrinth has been used by many neighbors, visitors, and school groups. It is accessible and open to all 24-7.
In 2012 the Gandhi Institute moved to the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood in an effort to better serve Rochester youth and community members. What is now the Gandhi House had been an abandoned building for 17 years and was lovingly restored by two friends and landlords of the Institute, David Knoll and David Skinner, along with their construction crew and a host of community helpers.
Since moving to the Gandhi House, we have hosted hundreds of groups attending films, concerts, meetings, dialogues, training, and community service opportunities. In addition to office space, the house contains a small retail area to purchase ‘Gandhi Gear,’ a workshop / meeting room space, a meditation room, and a kitchen. Community spaces on the first floor are wheelchair-friendly.
The house is maintained by staff and volunteers, just as the garden is. To discourage violence against animals and the environment, we only eat vegetarian dishes in our space. This building and its history is a wonderful metaphor for our work. We are so grateful to be here and always welcome visitors.