'A beacon': Peace pole would be a focal point in Lake Zurich, volunteers say
A group of volunteers is pursuing an ambitious project in downtown Lake Zurich to celebrate peace and diversity.
Friends of the Ela Peace Project is raising funds for a 20-foot-high, multisided, stainless steel "peace pole" with laser cut messaging. They say it would be the first of its kind in Lake County.
As envisioned, the peace pole would be installed on Ela Township property between the Ela Historical Society and Museum, 95 E. Main St., and Lions Park.
"I want it to be a focal point," said Shari Gullo, a Lake Zurich resident who originated the idea and co-founded the project with Pamela Self, a landscape architect from Hawthorn Woods who designed the peace pole.
The tapered pole would include the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in English with the word "peace" appearing in each of the more than 60 languages spoken in Lake Zurich Unit School District 95.
"To me it really came together when we learned how many languages were spoken here," Gullo said.
The peace pole is designed to be lighted from within and illuminated at night as a "beacon for peace," according to a description by the group.
As planned, associated elements would include native plantings to create a habitat for butterflies and birds, a circular seating area and a sidewalk from the museum to the display to Main Street.
"We want it to be really special and beautify downtown," Gullo said. "This is not just a pole."
The township board supports the project but won't be contributing any funds, Supervisor Gloria Palmblad said.
"We will not be using any township or residential money to pay for this project," she said. "It has to self-funded."
That's the challenge, Gullo said. A GoFundMe page has been established with a goal of $66,000, but contributions had tallied only $2,200 as of Thursday afternoon.
"Everyone I talk with loves the vision and can't wait for it to happen," Gullo said. "But that's not translating to donations yet, unfortunately."
If need be, various elements could be trimmed and the project could proceed in phases, she said. The goal at this point is to have the pole fabricated and ready for installation on Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace.
The group is pursuing a matching grant for landscaping, and volunteers are providing expertise and advice in various areas, such as creating a website, elapeaceproject.org and a logo, as well as translations.
The Ela Peace Project is also on Instagram and Facebook and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the group, the first peace pole was created in Japan in 1955 to help the country heal after World War II. Since then, more than 200,000 peace poles have been erected in more than 180 countries.