Blog Home » Featured, Voices from the Frontlines

Drawing on the Power of Peace

8 June 2010 No Comment

John Aaron

Tank Symbol - CHALK4PEACE, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 2005

“In the middle of two wars, a global peace project was conceived eight blocks from the White House. It would see the light in 14 months, by September, 2006.”

We all have those moments that change our lives. Some seem to be heralded by trumpets, others quietly smash into us. One such moment realigned my entire outlook on Peace. It revealed the importance of approaching Peace from a positive standpoint, instead of an “anti-war” point of view.

The anti-war effort had been effectively defused by an Administration familiar with its tactics. This epiphany came just north of the center of the universe in 2005.

As I studied the artwork of the first CHALK4PEACE event I organized in the District of Columbia, I came upon a beautifully eerie cubistic army tank with the Chinese characters for Peace crushing down onto it. It was done by two fifteen-year-old Asian artists. That image, as powerful as any editorial cartoon, made me realize that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of young artists of all ages worldwide who would rise to the occasion to express their visions of peace if given the chance. That I would have this revelation at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library was not lost on me. CHALK4PEACE was a chance for a global artistic vision that could promote a cooperative and collaborative effort towards peace. Looking across the plaza, taking in the drawings, I made a commitment that CHALK4PEACE would become an intercontinental event. My goal was to encourage 1,000,000 people to draw at the same time.

Even my closest friends figured I’d lost it.

Since 2003, we had sponsored chalk-painting Sundays at the Museum of Modern ARF, an alternative private art museum and workshop I founded. The Washington Post heard about our “For the Kids” event and began posting the info every Friday in their Calendar. Then the Arlington Arts Commission, the DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities, the DC Mayor’s Office, and Whole Foods stepped forward to sponsor these mini- chalk festivals, and participation grew to upwards of 300 people/project.

CHALK4PEACE, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 2005, John Aaron

The enthusiasm was the fuel. Immediately after the King Library event, I began the campaign to make CHALK4PEACE a global program. What it would turn into, I had no clue. I just knew the world needed to see and do this. In the middle of two wars, a global peace project was conceived eight blocks from the White House. It would see the light in 14 months, by September, 2006.

When I brought the concept of a total pro-peace project to the DC anti-war movement, it was met with indifference. I sent 3,000 personal emails asking libraries, schools, museums, celebrities, and politicians to be part of CHALK4PEACE. I printed thousands of brochures. Then a dear friend and arts philanthropist, Peggy Phelps of Pasadena, CA passed the information on to Archbishop Emeritus Tutu, who told Angela Rackstraw of the Community Arts Therapy Programme, who made it happen at on the steps of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, S. Africa. CHALK4PEACE was now officially global.

The day CHALK4PEACE ’06 began, the Chronicle of Philanthropy featured it in their Peacebuilding with Youth issue. Now in its fifth year, CHALK4PEACE expects 250,000 people at 500 sites to draw this September.

The ultimate goal of CHALK4PEACE is to enlist ten million people to chalk for peace at the same time. And this year, Yoko Ono has become a friend. Imagine Peace.

After all, we have a lot to chalk about!


CHALK4PEACE, Inc. is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that guides the global event, maintains the official Photo Archive, and disseminates the news of CHALK4PEACE happenings around the world year round. Your tax-deductible contribution is welcomed at

In the Peace X Peace Community: Connect directly with John Aaron here. You can also join others in the community talking about CHALK4PEACE!

Blog and news:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...

Leave a Reply