Monday, April 1, 2013

Your Input Needed At Next Monday's Meeting On Elementary School's Peace Garden Rejuvenation Project

Laurelhurst Elementary School Peace Garden

Liz Becker, with the Laurelhurst Elementary School PTA, invites the neighborhood to a special community meeting next Monday, April 8th, from 6:30-7:30pm at the Laurelhurst Community Center to solicit feedback on the rejuvenation of the Peace Garden at the school, located on the south playground near the gymnasium.
"The goal is to rejuvenate the garden and to fulfill the intent to promote peace and celebrate nature’s beauty," Liz said. She added that the Peace Garden has been well-loved and shows signs of that use.

The existing garden was originally dedicated in 1997, in honor of Laurelhurst teacher and peace activist Aki Kurose, whose work spanned six decades including "housing desegregation campaigns, anti-war protests, peace curriculum development, and rebuilding housing in Hiroshima." She "influenced many to work for peaceful solutions and an end to injustice, and to embrace differences."

Aki also loved working with children and said "I would get so excited because I wasn't teaching them, they were teaching me! And all the excitement and discoveries that they would make made me feel that they were the facilitators helping me learn."

In her first grade classroom at Laurelhurst Elementary, "Kurose took every opportunity to help the students learn to resolve conflicts. Instead of sending children to the office for misbehavior, they worked out issues in the classroom. She told students, "making a mistake is the most natural thing to do. Everybody makes mistakes. The thing to do is to learn from our mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the more you're learning, so don't worry about that"

At the meeting, the PTA will explain some of the landscape proposals and show sketches being considered including fresh landscaping with new hardy and child-friendly plants to help with fixing some existing drainage issues, embellishing the garden with additional child art that symbolizes “peace”, and providing seating within the garden for the enjoyment of the school community and the entire Laurelhurst neighborhood.

A short interview featuring Aki Kurose will be shown at the meeting, and there will be an opportunity to create Origami crafts and refreshments will be served. 

Starting in May there will be work parties and a re-dedication ceremony in June.
Liz wrote to our staff:

Recent current  events indicate that a letter written by Aki Kurose on August 15, 1996, is as timely now as it was seventeen

years ago. “As people see plants and trees from all over the world living in peace and harmony, may they, too, do so with the human population of the world...With the increased violence in our society, schools must take the lead in showing our student our commitment to Peace.

The Peace Garden will be an outstanding symbol and message to students and the community that Peace is the Way."

Children are welcome at the meeting and especially older residents who were part of the original dedication of the garden in 1997.
"We value your input in this process!" Liz added.

 Contact Liz Becker with questions, comments, ideas or concerns.

(Aki Kurose (Courtesy of History Link)

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