Friction Surprises Buddhist Leaders

April 29, 2007

Author: Rosa Salter Rodriguez

Source: Journal Gazette/Buddhist Channel,4032,0,0,1,0

Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA) -- To many, it looks like ordinary gray pea gravel. But to some in southeast Fort Wayne, it marks a religious and cultural divide.

The gravel, in the front yard of Jetavan Vihara Temple at 1204 Sylvia St. off Decatur Road, showed up a year or so ago – after neighbors complained that some of the Burmese Buddhist temple’s numerous visitors were, contrary to city ordinances, parking on the front lawn.

“(The city) comes out and says, ‘Just put gravel in the yard and make it a parking lot, and you’ll be all right.’ So now they’ve got gravel in their front yard. This has just totally lowered the value of my house,” says Donna Davis of 1208 Sylvia St., an upset neighbor.

During the past six years, Davis says, Sylvia Street neighbors’ patience has been tried by some of the city’s newest residents. They are members of one of the growing number of Buddhist temples in the city – new immigrants from Asia whose behavior and customs often don’t match American expectations but also don’t necessarily run afoul of the law.