Peace Pole Meets Yarn Bombing

peace pole in gardenEach winter at Farmstead Creamery (which is also Erindale’s gallery), my family and I dream up something new to add that enriches the experience for visitors.  This might be celebrity animals to meet, one of the historic farm tractors to touch and admire, a tractor tire turned into a sandbox for imaginative play, or the barn-themed Little Free Library we added last year so guests can enjoy a book whenever they like.

This year, one of our new additions is a Peace Pole.  If you haven’t heard of a Peace Pole before, that’s OK.  According to Jennifer at May Peace Prevail International (the group that spearheads this grassroots project via, even though there are over 200,000 Peace Poles worldwide, the closest known poles to our farm are in Superior, Ladysmith, Eau Claire, and Green Bay.

peace pole coveringFounded by Masahisa Goi in 1955 in Japan, the message of yearning for peace is just as necessary now as it was in the shadow of the second world war.  Traditional Peace Poles are painted or engraved with the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four or more languages.  Anyone may erect a peace pole, whether in a public or private setting.  Masahisa Goi felt that with our thoughts we make our reality, and these poles are not only symbols of the maker’s wish but also a call to remind the viewer to visualize and pray for peace.

But what is peace?  For me, peace is beyond simply the cessation of conflict.  Instead, it holds its own paradigm.  For instance, how might one family farm be part of peace prevailing on earth?  In an overwhelming shift within agriculture towards factory farming, where soils are destroyed and animals are tortured in confinement all in the name of cheap commodities, there is no room for peace—for balance with nature and stewardship.  If peace-in-action could be applied to the family farm, would it not be biodynamic, regenerative, diversified?  And by living this peace-in-action on our homestead every day, are we not offering peace one more toe hold on this precious planet?

Peace Poles are available for sale through the above organization, but all are welcome to make their own.  For a while, I toyed with painting a pole, but ultimately I was drawn to express the message through my preferred medium—fiber.  There is another grassroots movement known as yarn bombing, where everyday objects are suddenly clad in a colorful knitted or crocheted “sock”—transforming bike racks, benches, light posts, or the trunks of trees in parks.  What if I could create a project that was yarn-bombing-meets-peace-pole, wouldn’t that be unique and apt for our farm?  Time for the crochet hook!

installed poleScouring the thrift stores for acrylic yarns in bright colors, I first made a blue panel with the text “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in white script.  I then made a second panel that was built as a mural of a peace-in-action farm with a smiling sun, apple tree, red barn, sheep grazing, and a garden, which wraps around three sides.  With a 4×4 post in the middle, I wrapped the covering around and stitched it together, forming an instant, texture-rich splash of color that begs to be touched.

This last Sunday, on Memorial Weekend, we hosted a dedication ceremony for the Peace Pole, with Pastor Gary Hilgendorf of the Spider Lake Church.  The whole community was welcome to attend, as the message of peace goes beyond any social lines we draw between each other.  Peace is not a top-down proposition (you can’t force peace on people)—it starts from the bottom-up with each of us individually.  In this spirit, I was joined by fellow musicians Tom Sobczak and Shivawn LaBarre in singing Tom Paxton’s song “Peace”

Peace will
Peace will come
And let it begin with me

We need
We need peace
And let it begin with me

Oh, my own life is all I can hope to control
Oh, let my life be lived for the good,
Good of my soul.

Let it bring Peace
Sweet peace
Peace will come
And let it begin with me


singing at ceremonyWe all linked hands in a circle around the Peace Pole–farmers, artists, Peace Corp workers, writers, everyday folks–each offering our own prayer for peace out loud or quietly from within.  I could feel the energy of the gathering coursing through our joined hands as we sang Dona Nobis Pachem amidst the beautiful sunshine and spring flowers.

The acrylic yarns of the pole’s covering should hold up well to the wind and rain, and Mom and Steve made me a PVC cover for the pole to keep the squirrels off when we’re not at Farmstead (which made a great unveiling cover during the ceremony).  Yes, I may need to make a fresh crocheted cover for the pole by this time next year, but impermanence is also part of the beauty of a yarn bombing project, and creating a new pole also offers time and space to re-dedicate to the message of peace.

May peace prevail on earth.  And let it begin with each one of us.

dedicated pole