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The Friendly City Labyrinth

  • Famous labyrinth designer Lars Howlett and John Horrell of Sebastopol are seen working in Santa Dorotea Park on one of his designs. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Savannah Ashley
April 16, 2021

In Dorotea Park, Rohnert Park an engrossing Labyrinth has recently been painted onto a cement slab by a group of individuals including Lars Howlett. Intrigued by this, I spoke with Mary-Rita, a local instructional aid and a trained Labyrinth Facilitator, she worked on this labyrinth herself. 

Walking along the path can be unifying. Having one in Rohnert Park helps the lack of labyrinths in Sonoma County. It also helps the city with its lack of city center. Having a local one also benefits a calming gathering, of course after Covid diminishes. Lars Howlett, a well-known, respected, and of course accomplished labyrinth pro, will be using a design from a park in Vallejo, which he designed. With a labyrinth’s logistics being tricky, having someone who knows what they’re doing helps make the process simpler. 

In the past, Mary Rita would make some labyrinths out of chalk at her school and right away, students would swarm the area fascinated by its twists and turns and sacred geometry. They started problem solving the foreign pattern, and soon they began walking it. The first labyrinth Mary ever walked was Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. Although it was a while back, she remembers it being made of stone.

This newly made labyrinth is perfect for the empty area in D Park, for it offers a safe, comforting place that isn’t made for religious purposes. Labyrinths are forms of meditations, you walk through the spiral letting go of stresses and negative thoughts and feelings. “Once in the center,” Mary says, “You can sit or stand and take your time to receive whatever comes to you and your heart and mind.” Continuing, “Then the walk back allows you time to return to your life refreshed.”

Labyrinths date back thousands of years. And the first ever labyrinth to be found, along with all others, came with no instructions. So, the process in which you take to go through the labyrinth was made known by researchers, and scientists.

To walk along a labyrinth, you find your center. Mary wants all readers to know, “This isn’t Mary’s crazy project, rather a city-wide project. Not Mary’s labyrinth, but everybody’s labyrinth.” There’s no organization or church behind Mary, organizing this labyrinth. It’s the people’s labyrinth and everybody is welcome to walk it. Whether on a Saturday morning or a Thursday evening, it’s there, and for any and everybody. She hopes people feel invited to come and have it evolve to become a common, local place to offer meditation, comfort and solace. It’s a daily, ‘anytime thing.’ To come together as one and draw into our common humanity is the way to go. 

On the first Saturday of May, it’s World Labyrinth Day. Walk as one, at one p.m. Welcome to the Friendly City Labyrinth, take some time and check it out. Here’s a website to find more labyrinths in your area: Email me with your thoughts and opinions at


Savannah Ashley is a local middle schooler who has an enthusiasm for mountain biking, rock climbing, writing, art, science, sports and animals. One day she hopes to be a forensic scientist. She started writing for the local newspaper to spark an interest in the minds of adolescents. She has taken part in 4-H for a total of five years in the past. She knows what loss feels like and she can accept it. You can expect articles that include news and any other information broken down in a way to make parents more comfortable to let their kids read. She hopes for you, and other readers to enjoy what she has to offer, and that you share her articles with those who may be interested. You can contact her at any time with questions or comments at: