Dozens gathered Saturday in People’s Park for the formal dedication of the Isla Vista Love and Remembrance Garden, a memorial to honor the victims of last year’s killings.
The central feature of the botanical garden is six metal and wood benches, each carrying distinct designs representing the hobbies and interests of the victims. The curved benches when put together form a perfect circle to signify unity.
“Everybody wanted to help with this project once we said we were trying to remember the victims,” said UCSB alumnus Jordan Killebrew, who founded Project IV Love to start the memorial.
The I.V. killings hit too close to home for Killebrew, who created the Project IV Love website days after the incident to collect donations. A former resident advisor, Killebrew connected with Katya Armistead, the associate dean of Student Life & Activities at UCSB, who directed him to the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD).
IVRPD General Manager Rodney Gould steered Killebrew into a garden project, bringing life back to a park that has been mostly dirt and dead grass.
“This is a result of local business, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District — it’s students, it’s faculty, it’s administration,” Gould said. “Everybody that we spoke with was so happy to participate and either donated things or gave discounts.”
UCSB art students from Professor Kim Yasuda’s IV OpenLab course began designing the benches, with words and memories from the victims’ parents used as inspiration.
Speckles similar to those on a basketball dot Weihan “David” Wang’s bench signifying his love of the sport, while equations cover George Chen’s bench representing his passion in math and engineering. Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez preferred meditation.
“The information I got on Christopher Martinez was that he really liked Zen gardens,” said Caila Baltas, one of the four UCSB students chosen to work on the benches. “I took the Zen garden idea with the bonsai trees, and then I just went with more of the Buddhist calming theme.”
Mackenzie Gorman, a UCSB student and friend of Michael-Martinez since middle school, said the memorial provides space for the community to feel closer to the students who were lost.
“I’m honored that people would take the time to do this and so beyond thankful,” Gorman said. “I think it’s really special that we as students and people of the community have a positive place to remember the victims.”
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr spoke at the dedication, with Farr acknowledging the community’s efforts in expediting the memorial.
Fundraising efforts are still ongoing as maintenance and development of the space is planned.
“We want to continue rejuvenate this, make it a space for IV OpenLab to have events here and make it a lively place,” Killebrew said. “We want people to come here and reflect or study, and hang out or have events.”