Traveling to Chautauqua County, New York for the first time since I graduated college brought about a humbling sense of comfort. I mentioned my work these last couple years as Youth Rep to the United Nations of the World Peace Prayer Society to my friend Jonathan Woolson as we caught up on recent stories – during my freshman year at SUNY Fredonia, we organized peace pole re-dedication ceremony with the university president, musicians, dancers and artists. He was excited to hear of my experiences.
We then decided to find each peace pole in town, and made strides to do so before the sun left us for the evening. We began in Dunkirk NY, where the first pole was adjacent to the Dunkirk High School.
We then made our way towards Central Avenue, where we found a modest garden peace pole in a dedicated mound of mulch alongside the sidewalk. Within minutes, we then made our way to the Titus family’s home on Maple Rd., where we were greeted with freshly picked apples. Jon and Priscilla Titus are educators and botanists who I would see at local art events. It came to be that they would join my yoga sessions when I was teaching at the local fitness center, at the same time I was taking Jon’s course in nature biology, which was completely coincidental.
Our final stretch-goal was to make it to the Greystone Nature preserve, which is maintained in part by Diane Clark, former mayor of the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. We managed to reach the park just before sundown as we were greeted by a crew of baby turkeys. From the five that we had found together, I thought I would end my trip to western-NY by visiting a pole on the property of a home across from Bidwell Park in Buffalo, NY, which I was told was the home of local native Ani Difranco. Each chance I have to retrace my steps to recognize where I’ve been, I find the greater synchronicity of shared moments with friends who have helped to bring me to understanding my identity in life – I am thrilled, and grateful.
Youth Representative to the United Nations of The World Peace Prayer Society