Sylvia Villalobos and TJ David
Co-Creators of the California State Capitol World Peace Rose Garden
Sylvia Villalobos and TJ David met 35 years ago when a water pump fell off Villalobos' car and David helped to fix it. In 1988 they co-created the nonprofit International World Peace Rose Gardens, through which, they have built and maintained World Peace Rose Gardens around the world, including one in Capitol Park, here in Sacramento. The pair have volunteered countless hours to create a beautiful garden for our entire City to enjoy.
Tell us a little about yourself
TJ David: I am TJ David, Co-Creator of International World Peace Rose Gardens, but am known by many as "TJ, The Rose Man." I live in Sacramento near Rancho Cordova. I grew up in Hilmar, south of Modesto and was born with a love of plants, critters, nature and people. I was in the armed forces in my early years and later worked in the automotive business as a manager and Environmental Compliance Specialist.
Sylvia: I was born and raised in southern California, surrounded by a big, loving Latino family. This is where I learned that "diverse" and "different" can be fun and harmonious. I was taught to look after those around me and serve whenever possible. I now live in Sacramento near the Rancho Cordova area and have dedicated more than 30 years to enhancing peace in Sacramento, as well as in communities around the world, as Co-Creator of our nonprofit - International World Peace Rose Gardens (IWPRG) www.WorldPeaceRoseGardens.org. I am a graduate of Washington State University and worked professionally in the fields of education and social work.
How are you making a difference in your community?
TJ David: I design gardens that focus on various aspects of peace using the Official Flower of the USA, the Rose, as a silent ambassador of peace. My passion for growing roses and creating breathtaking rose gardens for peace is quickly known by anyone who talks to me for just a little while.
Sylvia: My passion to spread peace, love and harmony in our community and world communities led to the establishment of the State Capitol World Peace Rose Garden on 15th & L Street in 2003. It is one of nine IWPRG gardens around the world. The Capitol garden has since become a haven of beauty and peace and a popular gathering place for weddings, quinceañeras and civic activities, as well as a magnet for photographers. My other passion is education. Under IWPRG, I have developed youth programs that have involved more than 35,000 youth from around the world, including Sacramento County youth.
What inspires your community efforts?
TJ David: To me, each rose represents a different culture, nation or religion. So I ask, if the roses can all get along and make a garden beautiful, why can't we as a society? To me, every garden is a living painting of art! I love the challenge of always enhancing the "Visitor Experience". The projects also give me the opportunity to build great relationships with our project partners.
Sylvia: The core belief that everyone can make a difference motivates me every day to think innovatively and do something positive to improve my community. To me, my community is family and I feel a sense of responsibility to honor my sisters, brothers and children from diverse cultures and faiths by providing tangible places and programs of peace where everyone is welcome.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
TJ David: The State Capitol World Peace Rose Garden is the largest of the 17 projects on our historic State Capitol grounds. We were the little train that would not give up, despite many obstacles for eight years. Its Victorian design compliments the State Capitol architecture, with elegant entrance arbors, benches, Peace Pavilion for events and ceremonies, water conserving fountain, and about 670 roses in more than 165 varieties of colors and fragrances. The garden was voted #7 Best Public Rose Garden in the USA out of 130 + and was given a Best of Sacramento Award in 2018. Believe in your dreams and anything is possible!
Sylvia: Three loving, compassionate, giving, highly educated and successful adult children will always be my greatest accomplishment. Secondly, establishing a World Peace Rose Garden on the capitol grounds of the world's 5th largest economy in the world - California, was a dream come true. The eight years of effort was worth it! California is a trend-setter, and, to my knowledge, is the only capital in the world to have a World Peace Rose Garden.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
TJ David: In the early years, it was trying to find my destiny or life's work. Since discovery my passion for creating rose gardens for peace, the challenge has been to fund the many projects.
Sylvia: Staying positive and motivated every day despite the meanness, hatred, bigotry, poverty and other negative happenings in our world, has been a daily challenge. My personal struggles pale in comparison to others' life struggles. Throughout my life, I have tended to focus on the good.
What kind of lessons do you think are important to instill in future generations?
TJ David: You cannot find out who you are unless you serve others to the point where it challenges you. I also think everyone should have a mission statement that helps one determine what is important to him/herself before one takes action. My personal statement is, "I am committed to excellence because mediocrity does not appeal to me!"
Sylvia: Our future generations need to develop a strong moral compass within each and every one of themselves in order to lead our community and world with kindness, compassion, fairness and wisdom. Armed with these and other good qualities, they will be able to include others in their own well-being when making life choices; and will have the courage to make positive changes in our society.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
TJ David: I would like everyone to be on fire with passion for doing something positive in our community. In doing so, they will live life with no regrets. It takes everyone's effort to make our community awesome! This should be like a sport in which no one sits on the bench; everyone is a star player!
Sylvia: If I had the power, I would give each person peace within her/himself. Then, we could relieve the inharmonious racial, cultural and religious tensions in our community. Homelessness, too, would begin to disappear.
How do you decompress?
TJ David: Working in the gardens is actually very invigorating for me. I pray and meditate for inner guidance. Also, my wifey adds love and balance to my life.
Sylvia: I decompress by breathing deeply and reading short, inspirational thoughts several times a day; walking, meditating, practicing yoga and laughing and talking with loving people.