The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, previously located in the Interfaith Chapel on UR’s River Campus, officially opened its new offices at 929 South Plymouth Ave. on Sunday, Sept. 30. The open house, which took place between 2 and 5 p.m. was attended by “200 to 250 guests from the [UR] community and the broader Rochester community,” according to Director of the Gandhi Institute Kit Miller.
The opening events included a blessing of the house from Youth Pastor Winterbourne Jones of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, speeches by Dorothy Hall of the Plymouth-Exchange Neighborhood Association and UR President Joel Seligman and a performance by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Banghra group.
Seligman highlighted the progress the center has made since moving to the Plymouth Exchange neighborhood (PLEX), describing it as looking like a “war zone” when he first saw it.
He also expressed optimism about what the center has the potential to accomplish in its new location.
“The link to the community is vital in so many ways,” Seligman said. “It’s vital to making people feel that they can be the change.”
“The ideals of Gandhi are the hopeful ideals of mankind,” he continued. “Let us hope that Gandhi’s aspirations are realized in the years to come. This Institute can make a small but vital step to peace.”
Senior Marissa Balonon-Rosen, who attended the event, also expressed optimism about the potential for fostering greater community ties with the new location.
“There was an all-around feeling that they want you to be there and become a part of the Gandhi Institute,” she said. “They said it was a place for the community to go.”
Balonen-Rosen has worked with the Institute in the past on a self-designed service project they helped her to implement.
“I think the new location provides a good opportunity for students to explore the community and get out of the [UR] bubble, and I hope that students will take advantage of the Gandhi Institute and go off campus to visit,” Balonon-Rosen said of the Institute’s move.
The relocation to a previously vacant house in the PLEX neighborhood serves two purposes: the expansion of the Institute’s programs and a stronger connection to the Rochester community. The house is located on a three-quarter acre lot and has meeting rooms, a conference room, offices and a kitchen, all of which will help facilitate the growth of the Institute’s programs.
With a location so close to the community it serves, Miller says that the Institute “will continue to host community groups and encourage dialogues of all kinds — sustainability, transforming the justice system and race dialogue, for example.”
In the past, the Institute has had interns from Israel and Germany, and in the spring will welcome interns from England and Afghanistan. Miller says the move “gives us more space to have them come to learn about community-based nonviolence.”
Next spring, the Institute will also be a drop site for a cooperative farming initiative, a project Miller says will “help deal with the issues of lack of fresh vegetables and fruit in the neighborhood.”
For those who wish to learn more about the Institute or get involved, Miller recommends attending one of the monthly public nonviolence workshops or contacting the Institute to have them sponsor a workshop with a campus club or student group.
Remus is a member of the class of 2016.