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CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami/AP) – South Florida communities, schools, students and families are spending this Valentine’s Day in solemn remembrance and tributes to the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre one year ago.
But in Coral Springs, about 10 minutes away from the Parkland high school, there is a new temple now open where visitors can mourn, remember, contemplate, leave mementos and write messages on its walls.
California artist David Best and a team of volunteers built the non-denominational temple in Coral Springs and it is called “The Temple of Healing,” but it is only temporary.
Best, from San Francisco, began building temples honoring the dead in 2000 at Nevada’s Burning Man festival after a protégé died in a motorcycle accident. He has since built them worldwide, including in Northern Ireland for those killed in political strife and in Nepal for the 2015 earthquake victims.
Like those structures, the Stoneman Douglas temple will be set on fire and destroyed in a purification ceremony.
“The most precious gift someone can give you is their pain,” he said.
Best said it was difficult hearing from the families who’ve lost their sons, daughters and spouses in the Parkland shooting.
“The Temple of Time” represents the indefinite period it will take for the community to come to grips with the slayings. Best rejected naming it “The Temple of Healing” because he said that is impossible for the victims and their families.
It is an Asian design with a spire roof that has intricate, lacelike designs cut into it.
“It is a big, ornate structure that someone will come and put their faith in. I am the carpenter; I don’t write the doctrine,” Best said. “Each person can come in with whatever they have.”
Best’s regular volunteers — 26 of them came to Florida from around the country — scrambled last week to finish the approximately 1,600-square-foot temple. Community members donated their time to help.
“Every piece of wood that we put in this building has a lot of love in it,” said volunteer Theresa Harris.
Plywood sheets and cedar beams were piled everywhere as the building took shape, meeting Florida’s stringent hurricane code even though it will be burned before the storm season starts. Most construction materials and other expenses are being paid by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s public arts foundation, but neither Best nor his workers are paid.
“The initial reaction (people have) is, ‘This is really crazy, why are you burning this? It is really beautiful.’ But at the end of the period it usually makes sense to everyone,” said volunteer Paul Walker, an English artist who now lives in San Francisco. “The fire is very therapeutic.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)