Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Twin Towers Sept 11, 2001

Peace Garden Education -
Promoting Safety in Schools

By Julia Morton-Marr
Sept 12, 2001

“The crisis on September 11, 2001 proves that peace is the only option, if the planet is to survive such actions.” Julia Morton-Marr.

“How can I continue the work of the International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) when the world isn’t listening for peace?” I sat at my desk wanting to take the easy way out and stop work, after the numbing events on September 11, 2001. Have the last nine years of peace education suddenly seemed to have been a futile effort, as so little in the world seemed to have changed since IHTEC - ISPG began in 1993? “As teachers, can we use the powerful ‘nag-quality’ of children, towards changing currents events and regaining a more peaceful world?” I pondered. “Can teachers have such a significant impact on young people through their work for peace, so these events will never happen again?” “Will I go on?” The answer is of course YES ..... that following Sept 11, the implementation of ISPG will be enhanced as millions in the world are trying to understand how this event could have occurred.

Like butterflies, as they slowly begin unfurling their wings, schools with peace gardens took their students outside for reflection after Sept. 11th. They sent messages to all the children who might have been effected, for we do not know what will be happening in the future.

Peace gardening is like ‘Stone Soup’ . One teacher told me the story of her sitting in a circle of soil, digging a hole. A small group of children gathered around. “What are you doing?” “I’m planting a peace garden would you like to help me?” I said. We discussed what plants were peace trees that lived in our Eco-system and who could bring one from home. “Can we solve our problems in a peace garden?” “We could have an indoor garden and join the two together with a “Path of Peace”. “Aha, we could stop bullying each other in the playground,” the children’s discussion continued. “I know what peace is,” a five-year-old grins, “I have just solved a problem with a friend on our friendship bench.” “We must support each other like dolphins do, if we are going to have peace.” "Our peace garden has changed the way I think" said another. So the teacher brainstormed and developed their mind maps, collected words and decided to solve their conflicts in their peace garden.

In another school a child said “But our skins look so different and people are hurting my family.” Two children in a school, an Afghani child and a classmate; yesterday their friendship was like any other, today society is trying to tear it apart. Meanwhile nothing has changed, our blood is still the same colour, our eyes work the same way, we all have bodies that are filled with salt water. In Canada, we live or come from different countries around the world, how can we show this in our peace garden?

What kind of cultural symbols can we include? I suggested that we use the International School Peace Gardens logo in our garden. “What else can we plant?” Climate Change might cause a famine, so we must plant, protect and share our food. Our water is polluted, how will we keep the peace when we soon won’t have additional water to dilute the pollution?”. We know that we need most of the planet’s resources to regain a sustainable world.

Trees are sacred trees world wide. The Ontario Provincial tree, a white pine, is the First Nations Peace Tree. Mexican children are planting their five sacred trees. Lebanese schools are studying Jordanian Heritage sites and developing an art form for performance as part of their peace garden. African children are planting 100 peace trees to help reduce pollution, to protect their soil and encourage Eco-tourism. Co-operation between world cultures for human and planetary security, the children understand this before adults. Art, music and design are the outward expressions of learning. A visiting parent sits beside me. She offers to draw graph paper 1" = 3m for each student in the school, so they can design their own garden. She also suggests a model competition. We join hands under the big oak tree, to measure how many squares it will take to cover the paper. How many squares we will need for the other plants. How will we account for the gains and losses? Gradually we understand substance accounting and relationships between space, soil, food, water and peace.

It takes a village to raise a child, and the whole world to make peace. Together we chose two children from our class for the peace garden committee, and two for the “Peace Garden Newspaper”. Our activities include: writing stories, songs and poems for our families and a computer presentation for marketing and to stimulate community donations and funding. Our school peace garden website linked into the IHTEC site. We registered our ISPG on

Peace builds peace. We held a dedication ceremony and invited public officials, a First Nations man smoked a peace pipe, and we dedicated ourselves to a project for sustainability in our community.

IHTEC has linked us to “A Culture of Peace through Tourism” with local Peace Parks and Gardens, UNESCO Heritage Parks, Heritage Rivers, Creature Corridors and Marine environments. Our ceremony included a United Nations representative, who told us that “If our country was a member of the UN, then we were members of the UN.” We understood that if there was a problem, that we had to be part of the solution. Many schools have asked for information this week, which gave me hope that people are still listening to the need, to create a world in which peace prevails. Gently we returned our lives by nourishing young people’s enthusiastic spirits and souls with daily use of the peace garden.

The ISPG program was already supported by many Ministries and Boards of educational along with other organizations. IHTEC encourages all schools to participate.


Julia Morton-Marr, is the co- founder of the International School Peace Gardens program. She is a retired integrated studies teacher, from South Australia. Her 46 years of practical teaching experience. Julia developed the concepts for the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre - IHTEC in 1991. IHTEC’s focus is a ‘Culture of Peace through Tourism” a global perspective for peace and sustainability education.

Contact: Julia Morton-Marr, President, International Holistic Tourism Education Centre, 3343 Masthead Crescent, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, L5L 1G9. Tel. (905) 820-5067

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