Story Corps

Placeholder Image Artist's rendering of one of ArtStart's peace poles
photo credit: Elizabeth Zindler/ArtStart

Peace - a simple and strong word, and a goal shared by many here in Sonoma County. One group is making efforts to spread the message of peace with Sonoma county’s students.

Peace poles - you might have seen them in a park, garden, or a school.

"They usually have five sides and let there be peace is written on each side in various languages," Jane Futrell said.

Futrell is with ArtStart.

That's the long running nonprofit that helps provide mentor ship and arts opportunities for local students.

Including helping to get peace poles onto local campuses.

Futrell said recent efforts to help students install peace poles came about in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. 

"That was part of the impetus to get them onto school campuses and make sure kids were able to participate," Futrell said. "Students were able to participate in creating the peace poles, that's been always the aim of ArtStart, is to get budding artists and students from schools involved."

Futrell believes now is a crucial time to engage students in peacemaking.

"A lot of school campuses are experiencing unrest and not a lot of peaceful interactions going on, so we're actually very excited to be doing the peace poles that we have planned, but also expanding that to include more students," Futrell said.

For Futrell and Artstart, projects like the peace poles at Elsie Allen and Laguna High Schools, and other Artstart projects around Sonoma County, are core components of education.

"Students need art more than ever," Futrell said. "I think that's why the state proposition passed recently to provide arts education in schools. It's just a really necessary component."

Futrell is referencing Prop 28, which passed with nearly 65% of the vote during the 2022 midterms. It created a permanent source of funding for arts and music education for California schools.

Futrell said Artstart hopes to help students raise a peace pole soon at Santa Rosa’s Montgomery High School following the deadly on-campus stabbing March 1st.

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