In 2007, in the midst of the Iraq War, artist and antiwar activist Jean Bakewell was frustrated and wanted to do something. As she walked along the railroad chain link fence behind A Street, an idea came: Invite artists and friends to make peace banners to hang on the unsightly fence. The peace fence debuted with 67 banners (most of them on bedsheets) on Mother’s Day, 2007, to a large crowd and a children’s choir singing “This Little Light of Mine.” Eventually more banners were made and sent to Ashland from Vietnam vets, and from all over the West Coast, Canada and even Norway. Children from Ashland and surrounding communities made banners. There were eventually more than 200 banners.

The banners hung for a year with few incidents until June, 2008 there was a scene of devastation. Almost all of the banners were torn from the fence, slashed and stomped into the mud. The fence itself was vandalized. Jen, the founder was undeterred. She vowed, “We must move to transform this act of toxic anger into the energy of love. “

Plans were set in motion to make the Peace Fence into a permanent Peace Wall, and to put it in a more accessible space. All of the banners, including the repaired damaged ones, were photographed, eventually to be made into ceramic tiles. Assortments of other items were grouted around the tiles with the help of dozens of volunteers over many months. A steel frame was engineered into a “wave” of peace.

On September 21, 2010 (International Peace Day) the Peace Wall was installed in front of the Ashland Public Library. It consists of six 8-foot-long sections and two 3-foot-long end sections, 54 feet in all. The $25,000 cost was raised with fundraisers and donations.

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