July 8, 2020
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Collaborating Together for Peace

  • The newly planted "Victory Garden" in front of the Burton Recreation Center is seen on an overcast day. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
January 25, 2019

Since 2010 the Rotary Clubs of Cotati and Rohnert Park envisioned building a peace park and garden where the community could go to imagine a world filled with peace and understanding. In a team effort from the Rotary Clubs of Rancho Cotati and Rohnert Park-Cotati, the City of Rohnert Park, and community members, their dreams could become a reality. The result is a beautiful peace park being built in front of the Burton Recreation Center.

“We thought it would be neat to have a peace park or garden in the city - basically just a serene space to contemplate the nature of peace, what peace means, and what the benefits are,” says Wulff Reinhold, Club Service Director of the Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati. “Although there was support and we even set aside some initial funding it kind of languished because really no viable space became available.”

With the help of the city and their connection, the Burton Recreation Center was identified as being a possible suitable location for the peace park, as the property in front had become overgrown with ivy and could use some revitalization. In early 2018 work on the peace park began, with the help of both Rotary Club members, the City of Rohnert Park, community volunteers and Interact Club members from Technology High School. 

“The city started out by first ripping out all the ivy,” says Reinhold. “We had some contractors come in and re-sculpt the area. We added some walkways and now have planted close to 400 low-water, low-maintenance plants that are still sensory pleasing with fragrances and such. They’ve really taken off and it has turned into a beautiful area. We’ve also planted some olive trees - a symbol of peace and we also planted a survivor tree. This is a tree that is germinated from seeds of trees that survived the Hiroshima blast. They are marketed as peace and friendship trees.”

Now that the soft-scape landscaping is complete, phase two of the peace park project entails adding more hardscape, benches, markers for the trees and plants, and possibly some sculpture or artwork that promotes peace. Fortunately, the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati and the Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati were one of the recipients of the Rohnert Park Foundation small grants program and received a $5,000 grant to help complete this phase of the project. They hope to complete phase two of creating the park by May of this year.

“Some of this is still somewhat conceptual but our idea is to have messaging throughout the peace park that essentially gives you the steps to peace,” says Reinhold. “It starts inside with you. Once you’re at peace you can promote peace to your family and from the family to your neighborhood and from the neighborhood to your region and so on and so forth.”

The clubs also plan to erect a peace pole, similar to the one standing in the center courtyard of the Rohnert Park Community Center. The pole will say “Make Peace Prevail on Earth” in eight languages. 

“We’re putting the park in for the public and we’re going to try to encourage the public to visit this,” says Reinhold. “We anticipate trying to work with the schools so they might even make field trips there if we have enough educational components. We’re looking forward to benefiting the community.”