Peace gets a second chance

Ashland's Peace Fence, which stood for two years bedecked with homemade panels by the railroad tracks, is being reincarnated by volunteers in front of the public library as a tile-and-steel Peace Wall.

Some 200 panels, mostly of cloth and paint, were contributed by locals, artists, schoolchildren and far-off well-wishers who heard about the project, which came at the height of the Iraq War but was intended as a non-political statement of kindness and good will for all people.

It succumbed to weather and vandalism in 2008, but photos of each panel were transformed into small tiles and are being cemented by volunteers to eight panels that will be mounted on a wavy, 54-foot steel frame in time for a celebration at 5 p.m., Sept. 21 — International Peace Day.

The project, approved for public display by the city council, will cost $20,000. Only $5,000 has been donated so far, enabling completion of two of the eight panels for the inaugural ceremony.

Supporters hope to have the rest in hand by Mother's Day next year, the third anniversary of the Peace Fence, said Jean Bakewell, one of the founders.

Donations may be made to Peace House, 543 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland OR 97520. Checks must be made out to Peace Wall. Information and photos of all the panels are at

"It's going beautifully. It's designed to last and be in a well-lit place and can be easily repaired if anything happens to it," said Sue Springer, who is overseeing assembly of the tiles at her shop, Illahe Tileworks.

Volunteers are cementing mosaic pieces, accented with trinkets into the background around the tiles, a process that will continue through next week.

"What it (the message of the tiles) is that peace is all of us going back to being kind to people, to animals, to the world," said volunteer Gail Patton, who made a big peace symbol for the original fence.

"It's like the Girl Scout motto I knew as a kid: 'A Girl Scout is a friend to all and a sister to every other Girl Scout.'"

Volunteer tile setter Linda Lanzhammer did a panel that said, "In the face of absurdity, good must prevail." She says the Peace Wall "speaks from the heart for all ages and lifestyles and is a holistic approach to living on the planet as a conscious being."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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