Surrounded by Ruin, Florists Create Beauty in Mexico City

September 27, 2017 Updated: September 27, 2017

MEXICO CITY—As rescue efforts continue in Mexico City—where a devastating magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck six days ago—some look to bring a little beauty to a place that has seen so much devastation.

Streets remain blocked off by military personnel while volunteers rescue those that are still alive and retrieve the bodies of those who have perished so their loved ones may find closure. In the turmoil and devastation, a group of florists have set up a memorial in Parque Mexico in Colonia Condesa to bring some peace to those who pass by.

It gives people a place to create something beautiful for those who have died and for a city left broken. Visitors add to the memorial, writing cards and adding flowers to the memorial.

Florist Dafne Tovar said that she wanted to help the community but it was quite difficult due to the volume of people pouring into the streets to offer assistance. That is when a friend suggested she use her skills and resources to work with something she knows—flowers.

Messages on flowers at the memorial offer prayers and condolences. (Anthony Hoffman)

The idea quickly grew, soon attracting other independent florists and volunteers hoping to use their skills and resources to offer some small relief to those affected by the quake.

They decided to create the memorial for those who have fallen as well as the real heroes—the civilians who rushed into fallen buildings and some of whom sacrificed their own lives to pull survivors out of buildings still collapsing in the aftermath of the quake.

“Florists are very competitive so to see the seven of us working together is rather quite odd as this normally would not happen, we are all on the same level here,” said Olivia Bloch, an American expat from New York who now lives in Mexico City and works as an independent florist.

“You can donate money, but you really want to get involved,” said Bloch.

Visitors write messages on cards, contributing their messages of hope and loss to the memorial. (Anthony Hoffman)

One of the volunteers was 15 years old when Mexico City’s last major quake struck in 1985.

 

“My parents didn’t allow me to help because they said I was too young so when my son who is now 15 wanted to get involved, I thought it was great, to have a purpose. After all, we can all do something, there is so much more to do than just clear rubble,” said Tere.

All the flowers come by donation from local producers, big and small, though the majority came from small producers who drove two hours from the outskirts of the city to deliver their flowers.

“None of the vendors hesitated when asked to donate,” said Tovar.

The memorial has seen many visitors, even tourist whose trips coincided with the quake are coming to pray, leave messages for a loved one, or offer support. A young couple in their teens were approaching all offering hugs, giving comfort.

The memorial in the corner of Parque Mexico is offering a place of calm and quiet as tensions remain high in the rest of the city. While people wander anxiously through ruined streets, worried about lives lost to the quake or homes left in broken piles, the memorial offers a place to reflect on what remains: life continues and there is still beauty in Mexico City.

“We think the flowers have the power to make people understand their emotions,” said Tovar.

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