Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

Warm greetings and Happy Holidays to all. This spring our delegation traveled to Bern, Switzerland for the dedication of the 2007 International Peace Garden. Switzerland marks the 12th European country to be honored with an International Peace Garden. Mayor Alexander Tscfhappat hosted a magnificent event at the Erlacherhof, seat of the Mayor, following the formal dedication of the Peace Garden planted at the Universal Postal Union.

Because of the many international affairs conducted there, Bern City Council chose this location. The reception was attended by many ambassadors of former Peace Garden countries and by representatives of international organizations based in Bern. Bern was chosen by Dublin mainly because of the neutrality of Switzerland, which allows this country to host sensitive conferences. Also, Bern actively participates in the Conference on Disarmament.

A special thanks to the Netherlands Ambassador for hosting a reception for our delegation at his private residence. Our delegation spent several days touring the city and surrounding areas. Bern, being one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, is a World Heritage Site and enjoys a rich history dating back to medieval times. The city has delightful character and it’s no wonder having a very contemporary mayor who chooses to travel to work daily by motorcycle.
Our mission is that the Peace Gardens will seek to inspire. We hope we have done just that with the students from Laubegg School in Bern who assisted with the actual planting of the Bern Peace Garden back in the fall of 2006. Today a world without borders is merely a vision. These children are our future. We hope by having them partake in this project, that it will help to make this vision a reality. While in Bern we were privileged to visit Laubegg School to conduct a Peace Studies Workshop for the very class who participated in the planting of the Peace Garden. Donna Lopez, our newly appointed Director of Education, coordinated this program. Director Ria Hudome and myself assisted with the execution. We hope to continue this practice with all future Peace Gardens.

Also in 2007, The International Peace Gardens became a major theme along the tulip route for the 2007 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Washington State. You can imagine our surprise when we first received the call from Jeannette DeGoede several months prior informing us that she was very inspired by our story and intended to create miniature Peace Gardens at Tulip Town honoring the many Peace Garden recipient countries. She did just that. Judging by the spectacular photos, the extensive media coverage and many thousands of visitors who came through the gardens through out the month-long festival Jeanette was simply overwhelmed. Her goal is to keep the theme alive year after year and to add to her exhibit as we continue to dedicate new Peace Gardens worldwide.

We look forward to the Peace Garden Dedication in Kiev, Ukraine next spring. We will hopefully be joined by a group of students and the principal from Hillside Academy in Temecula, CA. This school commissioned our official banner by renowned quilting artist Linda Sawrey back in 1996.
Peace to all and have a blessed and prosperous New Year!

Paula Savage

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