Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Imagine it's World Peace Day

There's so much awfulness going on in the world right now. You would never imagine it's World Peace Day, would you?

Yet all over the world, peaceful celebrations are going on. In the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan there are colourful paper cranes which have been folded as prayers for peace.

Here in Fribble-under-Par Ursula Makepeace is our wise Unicorn-in-Residence. She is festively festooned for World Peace Day on September 21st.

Ursula suggests we celebrate World Peace Day with a bench and its simple message.

Being a unicorn, Ursula is quite an old girl; several centuries old in fact. She was a hipster back when the peace sign became hip.

She remembers the groovy benches of that time.

And she was there when John Lennon imagined a brotherhood of man way back in 1971. 

Here he is on a bench in Cuba in 2006. You may say he's a dreamer, but he's not the only one.

Ursula has found lots of dreamy idealists who have called for peace.

Someone has taken the time to write a quote about peace from musician Yehudi Menuhin on this bench in Oakland, California: Peace may sound simple - one beautiful word - but it requires everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal.

The United Way project in Austin, Texas used benches to celebrate the work of Martin Luther King. Like John Lennon, MLK was a dreamer. In fact, he was famous for having a dream. 

He reminded us that we all have our place in history.

Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the need for non-violent protest to change the world.

Throughout history wars have raged in many parts of the world. There are war memorials everywhere, often involving simple benches like these in the Czech Republic.

On these benches in the UK, reminders of war and peace sit side by side on a World War 2 bunker.

And of course, wars are raging still. For too many people, peace seems to be an alien concept.

This is supposed to be a serious post so Ursula thinks I ought to apologise for the pun. Sorry; this guy looks to me like a very peaceable alien. 

And speaking of aliens, here's a little fellow who looks a bit like Yoda.

Yoda says Wars not make one greatHaving survived all those Star Wars, Yoda knows a thing or two about war. And clearly, peace has a lot going for it.

Ursula thinks it's marvelous that despite everything, people still work together on peaceful projects, including benches. 

In St. Petersburg local people created peace benches for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee

Of course, the path to peace isn't straightforward. It's easy to lose direction.

Michael J. Gargano @

Sometimes a simple reminder is needed. That's where peace benches come in handy.

Here is an old relic from the Cold War. The Peace Park was a joint project of students in Seattle in Washington state, and Tashkent in Uzbekistan. The tiles ended up in the park in Tashkent, and later they were in the Peace Park in Seattle.

You can put a peace bench just about anywhere. This street is called Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) in Vladikavkaz, Russia. What a great yellow bench!

Benches are a good way of spreading the peace message.

Ursula has spent a lot of time researching peace benches and she's found a lot of amazing ones.

There's even a Peace on Earth bench project which takes the peace message world wide. Here is a Peace on Earth bench in Nakura in Kenya.

An earth bench is made out of trash and earth (or rubbish, as Ursula would say, because she's British.) The trashy rubbish is stuffed with soft inorganic landfill trash into plastic drinks bottles so that they become compressed like bricks. In fact, they're called bottle bricks. 

Here's a peace bench in the making in Ghana.

Then the bench is plastered with a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water to make a natural cement. This is a finished one in Bolivia.

Peace is kind of a slippery thing to define, yet we all know what it means. You know it when you have it. Ursula reckons it's to do with compassion. And she's found a lovely Compassion Corner bench, another one of the Peace on Earth benches.

For World Peace Day we really need to be international. 
This is the peace bench in front of the Peace Palace in Den Haag in the Netherlands.

Doves of peace often feature on or near the benches. Sometimes the doves actually are the benches.

A dove has landed on this Surreal Peace Chair in Israel.

Here a sparrow is resting in the gun barrel of a tank in Prokhorovka in Russia. What a beautiful symbol of peace!  

Ursula found this beautiful bronze Peace Offering by sculptor Michael Alfano on the Harbor Trail in Newburyport, Maine. The dove conveys hope for peace. Its tail transforms into a hawk, representing hostility. The dove's wings become open hands that can be seen as asking, weighing, or offering, or as belonging to a larger force. The bench welcomes two people to sit down and discuss their differences.

The message from this bench in Adelaide is in Latin. Fortunately, Ursula knows Latin. Pax Vobiscum means peace be with you

These two Buddist monks seem at peace with each other and with the world.

Of course there are different kinds of peace. Many world religions emphasise the need for silence and reflection.

A bench is an excellent place to give yourself time for peace and reflection. This memorial bench reminds us of the value of life and the need for precious moments to revere it.

But where to find a quiet bench to contemplate?

Ah, Grantchester! Of course. There's peace and holy quiet there, as every poet knows. 

This Quaker Meeting House garden in Evesham has a bench, a dove, and an opportunity for silence.

Even within noisy, chaotic cities, a bench can offer a little space for peace.

Keeping the peace requires international cooperation. 

Català: Pau.
Deutsch: Frieden.
Español: Paz.
Français : Paix.
Magyar: Béke.
Bahasa Indonesia: Damai.
Italiano: Pace.
日本語: 平和.
Bahasa Melayu: Aman.
Português: Paz.
Română: Pace.
Русский: Мир.
Slovenčina: Mier.
ไทย: สันติภาพ.
Türkçe: Barış.

Fortunately, the notion of peace is built into the customs of some cultures. In India, the word namaste is a greeting which suggests welcome and peace.

The Thai word wai suggests something similar.

The peaceful welcome hands-together greeting also seems to apply to animals.

This monk keeps giving the peace sign even though he's for sale in a garden centre and has been there so long he has turned to stone.

One way or another, all people are saying is give peace a chance.

Wherever you are, have a peaceful World Peace Day on September 21st.


The Let There Be Peace bench was photographed in 2010 by David Schwartz. It's on his photostream at and he also made it available at Creative Commons where I was delighted to find it.

The Imagine mosaic is in Strawberry Fields in Central Park in New York. It was dedicated to the memory of John Lennon in 1985, when Lennon would have been 45. It is often decorated by Lennon fans. My favourite is the peace sign made with strawberries. This photograph is by poniol60 through

The beautiful paper cranes at the Peace Park in Hiroshima were photographed by Fg2 in 2005.

Ursula Makepeace is our Unicorn-in-Residence here in Fribble-under-Par. She also serves the neighbouring village of Drizzly. Ursula's job is to promote peace, cooperation and creativity in our community which, it has to be said, is not always peaceful, cooperative or creative. If you've read some of the blogs on Benchsite you will know this. Ursula is a wise and gentle presence in our community though. Back in May she brought us some beautiful romantic white benches. She brought us hearty heart benches for Valentine's Day. As an added benefit, her unicorn horn is said to be an antidote to poison. Every community should have one. 

The simple Imagine bench was photographed by Claire Hintze in 2010 in Santa Cruz, California. Claire also photographed the Imagine mosaic, which looked different on the day from the one shown here because people decorate it in different ways; that's what it's all about. Her photostream is at 

The cool upholstered black and white bench with peace signs is from Hudson Goods, who make industrial style furniture which looks vintage but works like new. Their furniture is meant to be lived in, so it is designed to withstand the wear and tear of everyday living. It's made from natural materials with no composites; wherever possible they use reclaimed wood and repurposed products. I saw the stool on Hudson Goods' blog, (February 2010), where they also had a peace chair in the same fabric as the bench.  The blog has loads of interesting posts so if you're a bench or chair geek like I am, it will make you happy. 

The John Lennon on a bench statue was photographed in 2006 by Dr. Adam Jones, who has a particular interest in peace as he is a professor of political science at the University of British Colombia and he writes books about genocide. His website is at www.adamjones.freeservers.comThe photograph of the John Lennon statue is available at The sculptor of the statue is José Villa Soberón, a Cuban artist who is well known for his sculptures around Havana, such as Ernest Hemingway and Che Guevara. The John Lennon sculpture was made in 2000 and is in John Lennon Park in Vedado, near Havana. For many years Lennon's glasses kept getting stolen so in some photos he doesn't have them on.  

Dr. Adam Jones also took the photos of the Cold War tiles from the Seattle/Tashkent Peace Park project . They're from his Flickr photos at  I was also grateful to receive his beautiful photo of the sparrow in the gun barrel of a tank in Prokhorovka, Russia. This was the eastern front of World War 2, where the Battle of Kursk took place between Russian and German armies in the summer of 1943. The German defeat on the eastern front was a turning point in the war.  

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) was a world class violinist who performed and recorded music for 70 years. He founded the Yehudi Menuhin School and mentored many young musicians of different nationalities. This bench with his quotation is at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. It was photographed by iamsarah in 2008. Sarah's photostream contains all kinds of art, music, cats, dogs, and a lot of interesting views of Oakland.

The Martin Luther King peace bench project produced many peace benches in Austin, Texas in 2008 through United Way for Greater Austin. They describe
Greater Austin as a resilient, innovative, philanthropic, creative and thriving community for all. Their mission is to inspire, lead and unite an eclectic community of philanthropists including individuals, nonprofits, business, and government to overcome barriers to economic opportunities and ensure Greater Austin continues to thrive. You can see all the peace benches and people enjoying making them on their Flickr photostream at

The Gandhi bench with the quotation about change is in the Phinney Ridge neighbourhood of Seattle. It was photographed in 2007 by Wonderland, whose photostream is at It's great to see this image available on Creative Commons.

cs:ŠJů photographed the two benches by a World War I memorial in the  village of Svatý Jan, Příbram District in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic in 2009.,_pomn%C3%ADk_ob%C4%9Btem_v%C3%A1lky.jpg

The benches on the WWII bunker were placed there by Burnham Town Council to provide a quiet spot for contemplating the river. The photograph is Copyright John Myers and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons licence at

The friendly orange alien offering the peace sign is a vinyl decal from Matt Smith in San Francisco. Matt makes bright and clever vinyl decals for walls, laptops, flasks, toilets, upper lips - everywhere you might want to stick a decal. His shop is at

The little fellow wrapped in a blanket is not actually Yoda from Star Wars. He's a Florida Scrub Jay nestling, who was being banded for a bird conservation project in Florida. That was back in 2005, at the time of Star Wars lll Revenge of the Sith. The photograph is by Jennifer Benson, put onto Wiki Commons by Daniel Godwin from Gainesville, Florida.

The photograph of the Peace is kinder, cheaper and more creative sign is by John, aka MTSOfan.   John is a pastor who says that photography isn't just a hobby; it's his attempt at sanity, a diversion in a life with much responsibility, and also a way of looking at the world. 

The Sochi 2014 Organising Committee gave me permission to use the photographs which show them making peace benches in St. Petersburg earlier this year. Their photostream is at The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be held from 7-23 February 2014 in Sochi in Russia. 

The Peace Path direction sign is at the Mount Irenaeus Retreat Center in West Clarksville, New York. It was photographed by Michael J. Gargano for his website at 

The red peace bench was photographed in 2008 by David P at Stickware whose photostream is at  He likes shooting buildings, bridges, and nighttime shots and he likes to do realistic-looking HDRs and panoramic photo stitches. And he likes mysteries, I think, because he hasn't said where the red peace bench was. My guess is Cleveland . . . 

The yellow bench without inscription is in Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) in Vladikavkaz in Russia. It was photographed in 2008 by Мой снимок (Amikeco) and made available at

The Coventry peace bench has appeared on Benchsite before, in the Festival blog, which also features messages of love and peace, though in a festivally, hippie sort of way. Nothing wrong with that, is there? The Coventry bench is on Coventry Road, photographed by THD3 in 2011.  I'm pretty sure that's not Coventry in the UK. That's Coventry in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Liren Chen lives in New York. She has a whole album of 73 Benches on Parade from Rochester and other places in New York. The colourful peace bench shown here is by artist Howie Green and was photographed in Pittsford Plaza in 2010. Its sponsor is EnCompass: Resource for Learning. Lirena's amazing photostream is at

How does a bench create peace on earth? Peace on Earthbenches ( symbolize our collective desire for a more sustainable, more just, and more peaceful world.The Peace On Earthbench Movement (POEM) empowers youth and community members to clean up the environment, repurpose their trash into a building material, learn natural building techniques, and then create a communal gathering area— a Peace on Earthbench—where they can share music, stories, and life. The Earthbench effectively seals trash from entering the worlds’ oceans and rivers while serving a clear artistic, educational, and social function. These benches foster community interaction and collaboration. And when they are completed, they create a place for communal gathering—a reinvigoration of the commons. 

The larger vision is to eventually build 1000 bottle brick benches for peace around the world, and retain one bottle brick from each bench. These bricks will be saved and eventually used to build the 1000th Peace on Earthbench in the Middle East, a global symbol of peace in the most volatile area in the world. The photographs shown are from earth benches in Kenya,Ghana, Bolivia and Davis, California. The text above is all from the website, where you can see videos of the benches being created and find out more about how, why, and where the project works. 

The beautiful mosaic bench is at the Peace Palace in Den Haag in the Netherlands. The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial body of the United Nations, as well as other institutions of international law.The Peace Palace opened in 1913 and was funded by Andrew Carnegie as a temple of peace. The bench was photographed by Akbar Simonse, whose photostream is at  He has more bench photos than just about anyone I've found. There are amazingly candid shots of people doing all sorts of things on benches. Lots of the photos are black and white; I could write a colourful story about any one of them. 

The surreal peace bench with dove is in Ein Hod in Israel. It's by American Sculptor Dorothy Robbins, made in 1995 when she lived in Ein Hod and taught sculpture at the university in Haifa. It was photographed by Avishai Teicher  (צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר) in 2011 and made available at PikiWiki - Israel free image collection.  And it's also available at Wiki Commons:   

 The round blue mosaic dove bench is also in Den Haag. This photo is from Matthias Frank's photostream.  He travels widely and there are stunning landscapes of the Scotland Highlands and many other places around the world. Love the winter pictures of Amsterdam.

Michael Alfano's Peace Offering sculpture is 67"x33"x19" and is in bronze or resin. The first bronze casting is on the Harbor Trail in Newburyport, MA and there are resin benches permanently installed throughout the United States in public locations as well as in private collections, and there are some on temporary exhibit. The sculptor would love to see it at the United Nations, among other places. His website and a gallery of his work is at

Here is the Tao te Ching quotation by Lao Tzu, which accompanies the bench:

“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. 
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.
           Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.”

The Pax Vobiscum (Peace be with you) message appeared on this bench in Adelaide in 2011. It was photographed by Mike Cogh and made available on at  Oh, thank goodness for Creative Commons and for people like Mike who allow their work to be posted there. Mike has the most extensive collection of bench photographs of anyone I have found. There are benches from all over the world, all of them beautifully photographed. 

The Buddhist monks were photographed by Very Quiet at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 2009. Originally from Flickr, they are also available at

The Buddhist message about inner peace and its accompanying fork peace sign are by Marlo in Utah, who makes surprising decorations from upcycled vintage silverware. You can visit her etsy shop at

The memorial bench with inscription is dedicated to those who died as a result of the sniper attacks in the Maryland and Virginia during the Fall of 2002. It was photographed in 2011 by Steve, whose Unlikely photostream has an array of colourful people, places, animals, colours, shapes and seasons.

The bench in Grantchester church yard was photographed by Glyn Baker for in 2005 and available through The lines of poetry are quoted from Rupert Brookes's famous poem The Old Vicarage, Granchester, written in Berlin in 1912. You can see the whole poem at

The Quaker Meeting House garden is in Evesham. The photo is the garden in spring.

I found the desolate city bench when searching keywords peace Bench. The bench is on Second Avenue in Central Clydebank and was photographed in 2007 by Stephen Sweeney for It is available at   Though it's not an obvious choice for this blog about peace benches, this bench reminded me that peace can be found in unexpected places.

The namaste greeting by the beautiful smiling child is from North India. It's from

The Wai greeting is from a temple in Thailand in 2002. The photograph was taken by Wouter Hagens  at nl.wikipedia and available at

The greeting animals are apparently in front of a new stadium in Savannakhet in western Laos in 2011. The French photographer is Chaoborus at

The photograph of John Lennon rehearsing Give Peace a Chance was taken by Roy Kerwood in 1969. He owns the copyright of the photo and kindly made it available on Creative Commons at  "taken by me and legally my copyright, there can be no dispute as to my owner ship of this image see of" also "I have conceeded to cc-by-2.5 because I own the copyright"). There are a couple of spelling errors here but you get the message.

The colourful Peace blocks at the end of the post are from Daisy Harper, whose work I use regularly on Benchsite, e.g. the lovely sunflower summer island picnic basket for Lord Brassicas' picnic and also her intriguing Red Riding Hood self-portrait of a picnic in the snow.. Daisy makes homemade gifts with good energy and love. Her shop is at

Below:  Ursula and friends gather around for a peace rally on September 21st. Benches Not Bombs!  Make Benches Not War!  

The baby (on the left) is there demanding a peaceful future for himself and his generation. Likewise, April (age 6), sitting beside him. On the other bench is Tamsin, who lives in a peaceful dreamworld of her own, and Jovi, a rock chick from the 60s. Oh yes, Jovi knows a thing or two about peace marches!  Birmingham (Alabama)? Vietnam? Greenham Common?  She was there. Jovi notes that the marches were long and she could have done with a peace bench along the way.


  1. It makes me happy to see that there are so many peace banks in the world, let's hope that it helps to bring peace in this world...

  2. Thanks, Akbar. I too was very surprised to find so many beautiful peace benches all around the world.

    Thanks to all who allowed me to show their photographs of benches.


  3. What an amazing site and lots of great things going on. The peace benches are great. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.

  4. Hi Marlo - I am always looking for something different on Benchsite so I was very excited when I found your fork made into a peace sign and placed beside the Buddist message. It's great to have things like this in the story.