GAPP’s cornerstone initiative – the Peace Pole Garden – is a public art project that honors diversity and promotes inclusion. While GAPP offers many enriching, educational events and opportunities for community dialogue, there is also a need for a tangible, enduring monument that speaks to the right of every individual to engage in free and equal community participation. The Peace Pole Garden is a symbol of our community’s commitment to neighborly inclusion embracing different races, faith traditions and cultures.
In 2000, GAPP issued a “Call to Area Artists” to design an interpretive sculpture to represent the traditional peace pole pillar. Peace Poles may be used to raise awareness of peace and diversity or to bring healing to conflict or tragedy. This local project touches an international movement placing more than 100,000 peace poles throughout the world.
Using a design competition and a community selection process, residents selected a nine-foot, hexagonal, granite pole surrounded by six granite benches. Each bench is six-foot in length and has two translations of the phrase: May Peace Prevail on Earth. The inscribed languages are: Arabic, Cherokee, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.
The surrounding landscape design, ‘Many Paths to Peace,’ greatly increases the interactive applications of the monument. Its winding path and stepping-stones lend themselves to the playful pace of children in the park or to contemplative walking. The design also includes three trees designated as Freedom Trees. Freedom Trees are part of a separate reforestation effort coordinated by Paul Hemmer/Sand Run Nursery in conjunction with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Freedom Trees are typically planted in groves of 400; however, the GAPP Peace Pole Garden allows our community to be part of this special effort. Freedom Trees will provide a living monument to the more than 4 million individuals sold into slavery in the United States. Ten percent of the sponsorship dollars designated for the site’s Freedom Trees will be contributed to the NURFC to support their projects, research and programs.
GAPP members and supporters envision the peace pole sculpture and surrounding site to be a place for celebration. These celebrations may include multicultural festivals of art, storytelling, music and food. We anticipate area residents to generate additional creative applications.