July 5, 2022

Jennifer Stephens, Community Engagement Manager
Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center

What Does Peace Mean to You? Ten Local Bellingham Artists Join to Celebrate the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center’s 30th Year Serving the County

To honor its 30th year anniversary serving Whatcom County, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC) recently launched a campaign called “What Does Peace Mean to You?”. The WDRC is encouraging individuals, youth and local businesses to share their reflections about peace, plus stories about how the WDRC may have enriched their lives.

To celebrate, the WDRC collaborated with ten local artists, each of whom painted a bench expressing their own interpretation of peace; the benches are now available for public enjoyment at key locations throughout Whatcom County. The artists include David Syre, Jason LaClair, Gabriel’s Art Kids and Robert Williams School of Arts and Sciences, Kevin Coleman, Adrien Converse, Taj Williams, Rachel Simpson, Faith Ellsworth, Jim Dixon and the Whatcom Council for the Aging.

"The Coast Salish Salmon in the Center of the bench I created for What Does Peace Mean to Me represents how we as human beings shall flow with the current of life... In a peaceful manner,” said Sienum Lummi Nation artist Jason LaClair.

“The Coast Salish Motif Designs painted in the arm rests represent how decisions we make affect our surroundings. The design reflects the ripples made when an object drops into the water.”

“For the last 30 years, we have mediated delicate, powerful agreements, we have educated and empowered our youth, and we have launched programs that foster and encourage constructive, collaborative approaches to conflict and relationships,” said Moonwater, Executive Director of the WDRC. “For me peace means a deep calm breath and trust we move through conflict with harmony and goodwill. I want to send a heartfelt thank you to our wonderful local artists who have designed ten beautiful benches celebrating peace.”

Visit What Does Peace Mean to You? to view the interactive map of the bench locations, to learn about the artists and to submit your own stories of peace. The campaign will run through October and culminate in the Peace Builder Awards on October 21.

“What Does Peace Mean to You?” is presented by BECU and PSE and supported by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, WWU, Allied Arts, Cascadia Daily News, Fairhaven Association, Ferndale Downtown Association and Jansen Arts Center.

About the WDRC
For the past 30 years, the WDRC has offered conflict prevention and intervention services for businesses, organizations, individuals, and families. With a mission of providing and promoting constructive and collaborative approaches to conflict, the WDRC seeks to build the capacity of community members to better manage conflict as it arises, and to learn ways to minimize the possibility of it occurring. Recognizing that conflict is a normal and natural part of life, and sometimes people and organizations need impartial assistance, the WDRC provides education, mediation, facilitation, and coaching services. The WDRC values impartiality, accessibility, empowerment, collaboration, communication, and integrity.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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