Valley View E.S., Richmond, CA 9/11/09 photo: Jerry Downs Photography
Blog Now on streetpainting.tv is always impressed by ambitious projects for street painting, and we are especially impressed by the mission of CHALK4PEACE. John Aaron, CEO of CHALK4PEACE, shares his thoughts on the growth of the movement of those dedicated to peace through sidewalk chalk in 2010…
John Aaron: "Thank you for asking me about CHALK4PEACE. Sidewalk chalk painting has gained quite a resurgence as both an artistic expression and medium for one's message across the globe. From the talent seen at the I Madonnari festivals to the massive-scale collaborative drawings of entire school districts, sidewalk chalk painting has gained a certain stature it has been struggling for decades. It is chalk painting's time."
Community Arts Therapy Programme St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town S. Africa 9/18/09 photo: Angela Rackstraw
Blog Now: Since 2006, CHALK4PEACE has encouraged events in twenty countries and five continents with scores of volunteers with positive results; what have been some of your favorite projects to date and what particularly made them so?
Blog Now: Do you feel that the call to service and volunteerism that is becoming apart of life for many has actually helped accelerate the participation of those who may not have turned to expressing themselves as creative individuals for the CHALK4PEACE?
John Aaron: "There are dozens of stories worthy of note here. Moments in each that are as inspirational to the concepts of art and peace as one could imagine. Ones that are to me most moving are those which the organizers and artists break ground in their energy, innovation and effort to share their stories about their goals for peace. Nearly everyone who participates becomes inspired beyond their own belief.
St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town South Africa has done it since 2006. Angela Rackstraw, one of Ode Magazine's 25 most intelligent optimists for 2009 has brought the concept of peace to young artists who literally did not know what the word meant. They have decorated the step's of St. George's Cathedral ever since Archbishop Emeritas Desmond Tutu brought her the project as a way to teach peace.
The Crane Country Day School, Santa Barbara, CA, led by Debbie Williams, Director of Admissions, has joined CHALK4PEACE for the past two years, complete with beautiful videos and photo essays from Paul Westmacott, Teresa Pietsch, and Will Fredericks. The entire school literally ran for the chalk!
Marielle Mariano has almost singlehandedly launched CHALK4PEACE into 150 locations around the Washington, DC Beltway, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, The Organization of American States,Busboys and Poets and 150 locations in the Fairfax County Public Schools! She is the East Coast Coordinator for CHALK4PEACE. She is responsible getting more than one hundred thousand people to join with us for CHALK4PEACE since 2006. Maybe that number is low.
To visit the schools that CHALK4PEACE, and I've visited almost one hundred over the last four years (my colleague Marielle has attended more events than I, you see how similarly we envision the concept of peace and how differently ways we express it through art. It continues to be mind-blowing..."
John Aaron: "I think it's a larger notion: I think people want to volunteer their energy into things that can make the world a better place. CHALK4PEACE creates a global lens through which we can all see how the world envisions peace. Once it's recognized as hopeful and not hokey, there's no end to the positive collective artistic spirit that CHALK4PEACE fosters. As a non-profit, we are a legitimate organization working to encourage peace as a global tapestry that stretches around the world. It's a daunting task."
Grundschule Thadenstr -playground Hamburg, Germany 9 Sept. Organizer, photo: Katja Frank
Blog Now: What has been the reaction from public and private organizations towards the events since 2006 and do you see repeat events from some these organizations?
John Aaron: "95% of the sites continue the event on a annual basis. We do not actually know where ALL of the sites are. We try."
Woodlawn E.S. Alexandria, VA 10/01/09 Photo: Marielle Mariano