When the news of wars and troubles starts getting you down, take a drive along Main Street in Batavia. There, on the south side of the road, just east of the Holland Land Office Museum and overlooking Tonawanda Creek, take a look at the steel globe sitting high on its foundation. There is proof that in a world of trouble, people with good hearts can come together to create beauty.
The globe, installed earlier this month, is the World Truth and Friendship globe and it is the first “visual” of the Peace Garden that is finally taking shape near the museum. For more than two years, the Peace Garden has only been a vision shared by a small group. That group has included Paula Savage, president of the International Peace Gardens organization and who also happens to be a Batavia native; Barb Toal, project manager for the Batavia peace garden; Marilyn Werner, major fundraiser chairwoman; and Carol Grasso, volunteer coordinator. But that small group has gathered many other volunteers around them, and their vision is on its way to fruition.
On April 7, the World Truth and Friendship globe was dedicated. It is an impressive piece, even more impressive in that it is the product of local dreamers and artists. It was built by Rob Barone of Barone Welding with steel cut by Patrick Waite of Patrick’s Plasma Art. Kistner Concrete donated the base and L. Toal Plumbing dug the hole where the foundation is anchored. O-At-Ka and Upstate Milk cooperatives sponsored the globe and the area where it sits, in the Paolo Busti Park. Thanks go to all who have worked on or donated to this project.
Of course, the globe is only the beginning. There is much more to come — colorful flags, benches, trees, flowers, commemorative bricks, panels outlining historic events, and plaques in honor of branches of the military.
Ms. Toal called it “a dream come true.” It is that, and more. For, while it is the culmination of the dream of local people, it has also become part of the dreams of others across the nation and indeed throughout the world. The Batavia peace garden will be Stop No. 13 in the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail — a system of peace gardens from Buffalo to Oswego marking 200 years of peace between the United States and Canada. It is especially fitting, for Batavia was a rallying point in that war.
The second annual Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden fundraising dinner is set for April 28 at Terry Hills Restaurant. Tickets are available at Go-Art!, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce or by calling Ms. Toal at (585) 344-2458. Last year’s dinner was a sell-out. The Paolo Busti Foundation is being honored at this year’s dinner for its support.
After the dinner, the next big event will be the May 6 grand opening. By then, the transformation should be well under way. What people will see will be much more than a garden. Yes, there will be flowers and benches and other creations. But the real beauty of the Peace Garden is what it represents — the way a community can come together to make dreams come true. If such a garden can be created, perhaps peace can be created, too, one community at a time.