Peace Pole and Garden Bring Message of Hope to the Haverford Community
Even Nature, it seems, is a fan of world peace.
The clouds were thick, but the rain stayed well away as Haverford’s new Peace Pole and Garden were dedicated in a ceremony held April 5 at the garden’s site next to Chase Hall. The four-sided Peace Pole, which bears the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four different languages, is part of a global movement; there are more than 200,000 poles in 180 countries across the world. The Peace Pole project was started by the World Peace Society, a non profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to uniting people across the world through the universal saying “May peace prevail on earth.”
Haverford’s pole and garden were the brainchild of Jen Weitz ’08, who came up with the idea during her Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) summer internship at the Peace Center in Langhorne, Pa. As a co-coordinator and teacher at the center’s Peace Camp, Weitz was crafting a Peace Pole for the children with paper and tubes and thought it would be nice to have something similar for Haverford’s campus. She also admired the Peace Center’s own pole and garden at its Quaker Meeting House, where it served as a quiet place for contemplation and reflection.
Weitz shared her idea with CPGC Executive Director Parker Snowe ’79, who met her suggestion with immediate enthusiasm. “Given Haverford’s Quaker roots and the Quaker peace testimony, I thought that it would be a good idea to have some long-lasting monument to peace on campus that people could see and touch,” he says.
Weitz and Snowe approached the Arboretum about creating the Peace Garden—“They were wonderful and supportive,” Weitz raves—and teamed up with Staff Horticulturalist Carol Wagner to scout locations. “We wanted to put it near Stokes, since that’s where the CPGC is housed,” says Wagner. “We thought about the Stokes bus stop area and the other entrance by the circular patio, but neither of those sites ‘felt right.’”
Then they came to the spot underneath the spruce trees between Chase and Founders, and everything fell into place. “We knew this was where it had to be,” says Weitz. “I love that I can see it every day. It’s a quiet place to reflect, but it’s also a reminder to the Haverford community that we all have the ability to pursue lives of peace and social justice.”
The Arboretum staff ordered the pole from Peace Pole Makers USA in Northern Michigan, and Weitz and Snowe chose to have the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” inscribed in English, Spanish, Chinese and Swahili. “We wanted to represent as many different continents as we could,” explains Weitz.
A community bulb-planting for the garden took place on March 21. Choosing plants, says Wagner, was easy: “There were already some ferns, hostas and daffodils planted—all good plants that love to grow in the shade. I went to a local nursery that grows lots of little plants, including many great shade-loving perennials. There are a lot of leaf colors—green, silver, burgundy and chartreuse—lots of flowers from spring until fall. It will be very lush and restful.” Staff Horticulturalist Mike Startup helped Wagner choose the stone for the walkway—Tennessee flagstone, whose “warm colors complement the garden and the red cedar Peace Pole,” says Wagner—and install the walk.
At the dedication ceremony, Weitz briefly explained the global Peace Pole movement and displayed a plaque for the garden, which reads “This garden connects Haverford with the world in peaceful unity and symbolizes our responsibility to promote peace and social justice.” Snowe praised the Peace Garden bench, which was donated by Weitz’s parents. “The first time I saw people sitting on the bench…I wanted to run up and say thank you,” he laughed.
Snowe also told a story familiar to Quakers, about a young man coming across a Sunday morning Meeting, stepping inside, sitting in silence for a while, then turning to a man beside him and asking, “When does the service begin?” The man replied, “The service begins when Meeting ends.”
“Our service begins when we leave this place,” Snowe echoed.
Because the dedication ceremony was the kickoff for Tri-College Peace Week, it concluded with Swarthmore senior and Peace Week founder Brandon Lee Wolff, who described upcoming events and announced that Swarthmore would have its own Peace Pole dedication at the end of the week.
The evening was capped off with a reception at the CPGC Café in Stokes, featuring a performance by folk singer and peace activist Tom Mullian. At the reception, attendees were encouraged to write messages for peace on scraps of paper, which will be placed inside a time capsule and buried in the Peace Garden.
“I want everyone to feel like this garden is theirs,” says Weitz.