Twin Cities anti-violence art group melt down guns to make shovels and plant trees

Local art organizations are teaming up for a unique project to help families impacted by gun violence. Artists are transforming the weapons into tools that will eventually plant seeds of hope.

"We’re taking one thing, guns, putting it through the fire and having it come out as a component of a shovel that's meaningful to family members of gun violence," explained Jim Brenner, a Minnesota sculptor.

Brenner is teaming up with other neighborhood groups and nonprofits, including the Holland Neighborhood Association, Art Is My Weapon, and Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, for a cast iron event that will change the guns into the artwork on the shovels.

It is a symbolic community event that organizers hope will serve as healing and reflection at a time when they’re fed up with gun violence.

"We’re engaging the community to ask individually, what are some of the obstacles in your way and what’s necessary to overcome those," said Brenner.

"It just breaks my heart, I’m heartbroken every time that something happens," said Art Is My Weapon Executive Director Nikki McComb.

McComb has worked for nearly the past decade hosting events to educate people about the devastating impact gun violence has on families. But she and Brenner are taking their advocacy to the next level by giving the shovels to families to plant trees in honor of their loved ones.

"Trees don’t take place of a life but they live for a very long time," said McComb.

Once the trees are planted in communities across the Twin Cities,  they hope the trees will serve as a reminder for as long as they stand.

"Some of the trees will be planted together, right in the community where gun violence is rampant," said McComb. "I hope they will all be affected and all be moved to do something and make a change.

The Cast Iron Event will take place on Sept. 21 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the Water Basin next to Edison High School. The address is 22nd Ave NE.