Thanks to the Wilton Rotary Club, there’s a little more peace coming to Wilton. The organization is unveiling its Peace Pole initiative this week when they dedicate the first of 12 Peace Poles they’re installing around town. The ceremony takes place at Wilton Library tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m..

Peace Poles are 4- or 6-sided monuments inscribed with the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” on every side. On each side the same message is written in a different language.

Rotary Club as an organization promotes world peace–in fact one of their six tenets is ‘World Peace Through Understanding.’ The idea for Wilton Rotary’s Peace Pole initiative was sparked during a speech about peace being given to the Wilton Rotary members by a Rotarian from a neighboring club.

“He had a peace pole with him. I thought, that was really cool. As a member of a service organization, you’re always looking for ways to improve and enhance the community. We raise funds and that’s what we do. I was looking for something new and different, and meaningful. The carnival is great, and that allows us to give the money back to the community, but what could we do that’s more sustainable and have a lasting impact,” explains Carol Johnson, a vice president and Wilton branch manager of Fairfield County Bank. Johnson has spearheaded Wilton’s Peace Pole efforts.

She also recognizes that it’s a timely project, and says that the initiative has taken on deeper significance in the context of some recent, less-peaceful current events.

“Someone said to me, ‘You know it’s really timely,’ and I had never really thought about it but with everything that’s going on, it does seem appropriate. You can’t turn on the news without seeing something upsetting. Then you see heartwarming stories, where people are taking in refugees or other things. ‘World Peace Through Understanding’ is such a powerful message. If people took the time to understand other people we wouldn’t have all this strife, warfare and devastation in the world.”

As Johnson and her fellow Rotarians started putting their plan together, they thought giving Peace Poles to the four Wilton schools was important. They had several other locations around town in mind as well, including the Wilton Library, the Wilton Family Y, Our Lady of Fatima School, and Trackside Teen Center.

In addition, several Wilton Rotary Club members wanted to sponsor their own Peace Poles at their individual places of business.

“We’re doing one here at my building,” Johnson says, with three Rotary Club members in the location there–Johnson’s Fairfield County Bank as well as Gregory and Adams, and Enfield Ventures.  “We’re hoping that it’s something that will be somewhat contagious, and that other people will be interested in having a Peace Pole at their business or organization.”

Other Peace Pole locations in Wilton include Wilton Center Travel and the Georgetown law office of Beth Edwards.

Any business owners attending Tuesday’s ceremony will also be entered into a drawing, and one will be chosen to receive a Peace Pole at their location or organization. Johnson said that to sponsor a Peace Pole costs around $175.

Johnson said she’s received support from everyone who needed to sign off on the project, including enthusiastic support from Wilton Schools’ superintendent, Dr. Kevin Smith, as well as the Board of Education, first selectman Lynne Vanderslice, town planner Bob Nerney and others.

Wilton’s Peace Poles are 4-sided, and the recipients of each pole was able to choose the three languages in which the messages would be inscribed (in addition to English on the 4th side). “We tried to make an effort to have as many world languages represented as possible. The goal was to get as close to 36 other languages as we could. We’re very pleased that there are 25 different languages on our 12 poles,” Johnson says, noting that there are several in addition to the traditional Romance languages. “There’s Farsi, Greek, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Romanian, Swahili. It’s a nice representation.”

Smith told GOOD Morning Wilton that they made an effort to select languages spoken by students and families in the school district.

What’s more is that for every pole that’s purchased, 10 trees are planted in Africa as part of the Trees of the Future project. “Because we purchased 12 poles, 120 new trees are going to be planted,” she adds. “It really has a purity to it.”

Johnson says she thinks the project reflects Wilton too.

“This is such a great town, where people are so involved and so many people do so much for the community. It’s a great place to start this project.”