Long Live Love Foundation in Oakland Unveils Community ‘Healing Garden’

By: Wendy Medina

Sunday, June 13 marked the first anniversary of the Long Live Love Foundation in Oakland, California. Their debut of a “Healing Garden” was filled with live music, medicine bundles and a warm sense of community.  

Founded by the McCarter family, the nonprofit was created in honor of their father Rev. David McCarter, and son Immanuel McCarter, who died due to police violence. In order to cope and support other families experiencing the same trauma, Ezekiel, Chanae and their mother Gabrielle McCarter champion community healing through means of holistic treatment. 

Meant as a place of comfort and solace, the garden is just one of many programs Long Live Love is providing to the community for trauma healing and mental health wellness. The foundation seeks to partner with other organizations to make more kinds of therapy available. Their future expansion plans include music therapy, writing therapy, nature camps, holistic counseling, healing circles and an annual retreat for survivors. Additionally, they’ve set up the Apollo Carter Long Live Love Music Scholarship, available to SFUSD high school seniors fall of 2021. 

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The garden made its grand opening in the historic “Ghost Town” district in West Oakland, known as such due to hundreds of Black families being displaced by freeway and subway construction in the ‘80s. The McCarters transformed a vacant lot into an “empowering and tranquil healing experience for trauma and violence survivors,” as stated in their website 

Their vision is “to provide support, resources and a safe healing space for people in the community that have witnessed or experienced adverse consequences of trauma. Suicide, gun violence, harm or loss of life, as a result of excessive use of police force…[as well as] those harmed by this country’s ill-equipped mental healthcare system.” 

Inspired by the music left behind by their brother Immanuel, the live performance tied together the event, spreading a message of love and strength, nothing short of a celebration of life.  

An altar was set in front of the stage, to honor the family and friends who have ascended. Offerings of their favorite food, drink, flowers, herbs, singing bowls, woven baskets, candles and burning incense evoked a bittersweet feeling of peace and remembrance.  

RELATED: Mental health best practices for the Black community, marginalized populations

The stage will remain in the “Healing Garden” as a setting for workshops, classes, women’s circles and yoga, among other things, starting every second Saturday in July.  

Workshop therapy will include making medicine straight from the garden, creating tinctures and planting, all at no cost. “Cost is why people are still hurting. Because it costs money to heal,” said Chanae. Long Live Love’s vision to expand their programming and current role as an inspiration to their community are already big moves for the young foundation.  

“I just felt like now is the time, you know, especially the year we’ve all gone through. And I’m a case manager, I’ve been in education for 28 years, a teacher, so this is just another way to kind of give back, to keep giving,” said Gabrielle in a local news clip. 

For more information, visit longlivelovefoundation.com 

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