Global Peace Pole Project is represented in Eatonton’s Butterflies & Blooms habitat.
What do Eatonton, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the Magnetic North Pole all have in common? They all proudly claim a Peace Pole, a four-, six-, or eight-sided monument bearing the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in a different language on each side.
The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan in 1955 by Masahisa Goi, who decided to dedicate his life to spreading the message of peace in response to the bombings on Hiroshima. In 1983, Fumi Johns Stewart of the World Peace Prayer Society brought Peace Poles to the United States and they have been growing in popularity ever since. There are currently more than 200,000 Peace Poles around the world in more than 200 countries. The one in Eatonton stands tall at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch, the pollinator habitat at 617 North Jefferson Street.
Students from Putnam County Middle School created the monument through the school’s Community Project Based Learning and The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee’s “Succeed Through Success” programs, both of which encourage and assist youth to take voluntary actions for the common good in their community.
After exploring various ways to contribute, the students followed the suggestion of BBBP Manager, Virginia Linch, to connect with the worldwide Peace Pole Project and construct a Peace Pole here in the Briar Patch. Along with engineers from The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, they decided on a four-sided wooden structure. The students chose to paint it a vibrant yellow so it would stand out in the habitat. They then added symbols of flowers, birds, and trees to represent aspects of nature, and most importantly, some butterflies.
For the languages, they chose English and Spanish to represent the two cultures that are united in their school. Their teacher, Cammie Edwards, whose husband is a Vietnam veteran, requested the Vietnamese script to honor him and all veterans for their service. As for including Portuguese, Edwards says, “The students thought it was a language that is important, sometimes overlooked, and cool.”
Thanks to these students’ efforts, the Peace Pole now unites Eatonton with communities all over the world, including nearby cities. One can find Peace Poles at First Presbyterian Church in Milledgeville and High Street Unitarian Universalist Church in Macon.
The Peace Pole at BBBP has not only united the Briar Patch in the worldwide goal to foster peace, but it has also provided an opportunity for local volunteers to add their own personal touches. The City of Eatonton provided the red rock surrounding the pole. Bradley Carswell built two benches where visitors can rest. Linch added a chain with a lock to symbolize her desire to unlock peace, and Doug Barker crafted a butterfly sculpture out of horse shoes to adorn the top.
Interestingly enough, the butterfly is a symbol of transformation. Linch encourages volunteers to get involved in the process. Whether it be weeding, planting, or adding an artistic touch, how much more unifying this project will be if everyone gets a “peace” of the action.
Story by Susan Larson
Photography by Virginia C. Linch