Houston, Texas (March 1, 2021): For the next several days, the people of Houston will have a place to honor those lost to COVID-19 and to reflect on the impacts the ongoing pandemic has had on their lives.
Shellye Arnold, President and CEO of Memorial Park Conservancy, joined Megan Eddings, founder and CEO of Houston-based Accel Lifestyle, for a special ceremony today, during which a five-foot, heart-shaped garland of flowers was placed at Memorial Park by Eddings and the designers. The private ceremony is part of a national movement started by The Floral Heart Project and one of just over a hundred across the country coinciding with the proposed National Day of Mourning.
“From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, people have turned to the restorative power of nature and recreation that Memorial Park offers. It is truly a haven where Houstonians go to rest, recover, and rejuvenate at a time when they need it most,” said Shellye Arnold, President and CEO of Memorial Park Conservancy. ”Memorial Park Conservancy is honored to join the Floral Heart Project in dedicating a special place for the community to pay their respects and take their next steps toward healing.”
Due to social distancing guidelines, as well as the ongoing local emergency, the ceremony was kept to just a few participants. However, the floral heart will remain in place in the park on the West Memorial Loop side of Memorial Park through Friday, March 5, 2021. This will allow the public the opportunity to view the living memorial and to mourn in their own way.
The Floral Heart Project is an ongoing movement by artist Kristina Libby to help provide healing, compassion, and sympathy for those impacted by COVID-19. In an effort to have a floral heart placed in all 50 states on March 1, Libby reached out to Eddings for help organizing events in Houston and in Providence, Rhode Island. Eddings is a Rhode Island native currently based in Houston and is very involved in both communities. Jumping at the chance to help Libby spread The Floral Heart Project’s message of love, support, and unity, Eddings joined with Poland Media Group’s Kimberly Poland to spearhead efforts in Providence and Houston.
“At its core, Accel Lifestyle is about embracing positivity. While there is nothing positive about COVID-19 and the deaths it has caused, the mission of The Floral Heart Project to encourage unity and healing is beautiful and profound,” Eddings said, “Now more than ever, considering what the people of Houston are going through following last month’s extreme weather, the people of Houston need some beauty and positivity in their lives.”
“Even for those who have not lost a loved one due to COVID, the pandemic has had an undeniable impact on all of our lives,” Poland said. “We’re honored to be able to provide the community a positive way to come together and begin the healing process.”
The garland displayed by The Floral Heart Project is typically made of roses. However, the Houston display will be different. Co-designed by Mostess Founder & Lead Curator Lindsey Rose King, the floral heart will consist of ranunculus and anemones, which are some of the only flowers to survive last month’s frigid temperatures.
“The floral heart in Houston will also reflect Houston Strong. Texas Strong,” said Nga Nguyen, owner of Texas Nature Sunshine Farm, the grower that donated the flowers and co-designer of the floral heart. “The flowers we’re using survived one of the coldest winter storms we’ve ever had. While the garland we’re making will be different, it embodies the struggles this city has been through. We hope it gives Houstonians a symbol and a space to grieve and remember their loved ones, even during the most difficult times.”
The Floral Heart Project began in April 2020 and has gotten national media attention from outlets like The New York Times, CNN, and the New York Post. While the project is non-partisan, the effort on March 1st is aligned with Marked by COVID’s work to create a National Day of Mourning. The Floral Heart Project supports efforts that are actively focused on creating memorials now and permanent memorials in the future.
About The Floral Heart Project:
The Floral Heart Project is an ongoing effort by artist Kristina Libby to help provide healing, compassion and sympathy for those impacted by COVID-19. It began with her research on the potential impacts on society from the pandemic and was furthered with the revealing data that for every person we lose, 2-9 people will experience severe PTSD. Worried about the current state of our country, she felt that we could not withstand this deep psychological wound without help. Her contribution has been to create visualizations of those we have lost and to hold vigils and ritual ceremonies for those suffering as part of the Floral Heart Project.
The project is meant to be simple for anyone, anywhere to understand. She chose flowers as they are a traditional gift during loss and hearts because they are a simple way to showcase love and support. The hearts have appeared, with the support of 1-800-Flowers.COM, in Times Square, Bryant Park, Herald Square and iconic locations around New York City and all over the US.
About Accel Lifestyle:
Founded by Megan Eddings – the creative chemist who developed Prema® fabric – Accel Lifestyle is the first ethical activewear brand for people who sweat and want to smell fresh. Combining proprietary science, fashionable fitness apparel for women and men, and an ethical supply chain, Accel Lifestyle is creating a movement for positive change. Accel Lifestyle’s mission is to empower people and inspire them to “Accel”erate their lives by promoting confidence, making healthy choices, and helping others.
About Memorial Park Conservancy:
Memorial Park Conservancy is a private, nonprofit organization that operates and maintains 1,100 of the Park’s 1,500 acres. Founded in 2000, Memorial Park Conservancy aspires to implement principles of exceptional park management and stewardship in a successful public-private partnership with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD).
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