While Isla Vista community leaders work to raise funds for an anti-war memorial in Perfect Park, a local artist waits with his designs in hand.
The I.V. Recreation and Parks District has raised between $16,000-$17,000 for the monument through private donations since choosing the design in 1999 and hopes to reach its goal of $25,000 by spring. When complete, the circular monument will consist of four benches accessible through arch-covered entryways. It will honor those who protested peacefully at the park, which was an epicenter for sit-ins and other demonstrations during the Vietnam War.
IVRPD Director Diane Conn said while nothing specific is planned for the immediate future, fund raising will continue along the lines of receptions and banquets.
“Right now we’re working on putting together a nice presentation and soliciting those who we think may support the project, such as long-time peace activists or people in the art community,” she said.
Conn recalled two recent fund-raising windfalls: two donations from the I.V. Community Relations Committee totaling $5,000 and a reception that raised $3,000. The reception featured a showing of the film “Don’t Bank on Amerika,” by former UCSB faculty member Peter Biskind, which recounts the 1970 burning of Bank of America’s I.V. branch. Conn also said, however, that the purpose of the new monument is to honor nonviolent forms of protest.
“How can you protest war if you’re violent?” she said. “Our goal is to both commemorate what people have done in the past, and remind everyone that peaceful protest is a tool that we have, which unfortunately is really relevant right now. … I think there’s a lot of consciousness against war right now, and people are interested in peaceful protest.”
The monument’s designer, local artist Colin Gray, said the wait for funds has not dampened his enthusiasm for the project.
“It’s understandable. It’s not a disappointment. The people working on this are an amazing bunch of people,” Gray said.
Gray drew inspiration for the monument from the program The Four-Fold Way, by cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien. The program examines indigenous peoples throughout the world and what they see as the necessary ingredients for a balanced and peaceful life – the ways of the warrior, the visionary, the teacher and the healer. Each of the four entryways of the structure will symbolize one of these influences.
“The monument emphasizes balance as a key to peace. For instance, power without vision and love is out of balance,” Gray said.
Once fund raising is complete, Gray estimates construction of the monument, which will be 15 feet across and occupy 225 square feet, should take two to three months. Conn said the busy schedules of the members of the committee working on the monument have also contributed to the delay.
“All the work is being done by the volunteers, and it’s all fund raising so that takes a lot of time. … It’s a beloved project. I wish I could just work on it, but other things are going on,” Conn said, referring to her work on the No on Recall campaign.
Conn is optimistic about meeting a June 10 completion date and said feedback about the project from I.V. residents has been positive.
“The public response has been very good. Whenever we [presented the idea], people were really stoked about it,” she said.
I.V. Residents who want to contribute to the Perfect Park monument or volunteer their services can e-mail .