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History of WWFP

In response to the Cold War, someone in my neighborhood had painted a sign on their fence in huge letters: DO SOMETHING TODAY FOR PEACE. Every time I drove past that fence I asked myself, "What could I do? How could I contribute to peace in the world?" Slowly, my answer began to emerge. If peace meant bringing together or unifying opposing forces, then every creative act, no matter how large or how small, would be a peacemaking process. Every time the artist puts wet paint to dry paper, brings color to barren and empty places, introduces feeling and thought into a void, opposites are united. I knew for certain that if the artist in everyone were restored, we could save the world.

Challenged by that sign on the fence, I set out to create the first Peace Wall. I invited people to bring forth the artist in themselves by painting their own vision of peace on ceramic tiles. With these tiles we would build a wallnot a wall that separates but a wall of love and communication. Because tiles last for centuries, they would be the perfect medium for a message of peace. If we were all to die in a nuclear holocaust, we would leave behind this lasting monument to our affirmation of life and to our creativity.

I formed a core of dedicated volunteers. It would take five years of effort before our first wall, made of three thousand tiles, would emerge in downtown Berkeley. Since then the first World Wall for Peace has evolved into the vision of a healing Medicine Wheel of love encircling the Earth, with sections in different countries and cultures around the world.

The Peace Empowerment Process has been taught in widely disparate places around the world, including thirty schools in Moscow, and in Artek, Vladivostok, Troitsk and Padorsk in the (then) Soviet Union; and in El Khader (near Bethlehem) and Jerusalem, Israel.

The World Wall for Peace now stands in over 40,000 individually handpainted tiles across the world.  Around the world, you can see WWFP walls in Hiroshima, Kobe and Nagano, Japan; Moscow, Russia, El Khader, Israel (occupied West Bank); and in The Netherlands and China. Proposed projects (as of November, 2001) include Capetown and Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the United States, completed or inprogress Peace Walls can be found in Berkeley and Oakland, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Detroit, Michigan; Loudenville, New York; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can see sections of the at Martin Luther King Park and Willard Middle School in Berkeley; and the Fruitvale BART station and Jack London Square in Oakland. In June 2003, seven youth from McClymonds High School in West Oakland, and seven adults went to Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the ‘Oakland-Johannesburg Student Peace Exchange.’ (See our Photo Gallery for photos and information about individual sites.)

As more walls were built, it became clear that more was happening than just painting tiles and building walls. The process of painting tiles helped unveil the "Artist in Everyone," and the importance of creativity in preventing violence became clear.  Carolyna Marks created and developed the Peace Empowerment Process, in which students develop their emotional wisdom through creative processes.  The building of a wall became a framework in which participants learn skills and develop their creativity.

A more detailed history of the World Wall for Peace, and more information on the Peace Empowerment Process can be found in the book Creativity in the Lions' Den, by Carolyna Marks.

See How to Build Your Own Peace Wall for information on how you can create a Peace Wall in your community.