Saturday, September 21, 2013

Peace and love came together in Dallas on Saturday.

On International Day of Peace, volunteers for the Dallas Love Project started installing inspirational posters across the city. To kick off the project, they decorated more than 10 locations, including Parkland Memorial Hospital and the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. In all, the city will be blanketed with more than 30,000 posters.

The goal is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy by painting Dallas in a new light.

Words from Charles Dickens - "Have a heart that never hardens" - adorned one colorful poster. Another bore a quote from Emily Dickinson: "That love is all there is, is all we know of love."

Across another was this sentiment from Jimi Hendrix: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

Spreading words of love and peace brings a smile to Karen Blessen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning artist behind the Dallas Love Project.

"It's a real joy to see it come together," said Blessen, founder of the nonprofit 29 Pieces. "We moved mountains to do this project."

Challenges included rounding up more than 120 community partners and going door to door to enlist support. 29 Pieces is the project's lead organization.

"Our primary focus will be downtown Dallas and along the JFK motorcade route," said Mauricio Navarro, a project spokesman. "We want to make Dallas a huge walking art gallery."

The project reaches north to Valley View Center, west to Trinity Groves and south to South Side on Lamar. At Parkland, about 80 pieces were placed in two entry areas. The downtown library will display 1,500 to 2,000 posters.

Artists range from children to adults and include students, teachers, refugees, incarcerated women and others. The Keller school district has submitted more than 12,000 pieces of art for the project. Dallas ISD is also on board.

All students and teachers at the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School participated in the project, and a few came out to volunteer Saturday. School librarian Diana O'Connor hung artwork at Whole Foods on Lemmon Avenue. She said she was amazed by the creativity in the pieces.

"The art is fabulous," she said.

In one spot, she hung back to back on a window pieces by an 88-year-old and an 8-year-old.

While most of the posters contain quotes from peacemakers such as Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., some display original sayings.

Rangel seventh-grader Audrey Griffin, 12, expressed her own feelings in her poster.

"Mine says that love is understanding each other's differences," she said.

Blessen said she enjoyed watching the kids be creative.

"They loved the project," she said.

Maya Angelou High School teacher Karen Isbell agreed.

"It brings out the best in kids and shows them how much their voice matters," she said. Isbell uses MasterPeace, an art-based curriculum developed by Blessen, at her school. The curriculum teaches peace and conflict resolution.

The project couldn't have come at a better time, Blessen said. A longtime peace advocate, she illustrated the award-winning book Peace One Day about British activist Jeremy Gilley's efforts to establish Sept. 21 as International Day of Peace. Celebrations took place around the world to mark the day.

Dallas Love Project volunteers will continue to install artwork on weekends through mid-October. The posters will remain on display through Nov. 30.


To find artwork locations or get involved in the project, visit

COMMEMORATING JFK Nov. 2 symposium

Premium all-day tickets are on sale for the Nov. 2 symposium, "Understanding Tragedy: The Impact of the JFK Assassination on Dallas," presented by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture in partnership with The Dallas Morning News and other organizations.

The symposium will take place at The South Side Ballroom in Dallas and will feature more than a dozen high-profile speakers, including Jim Lehrer, Stephen Carter, Nikky Finney, Richard Rodriguez and Lawrence Wright. All-day tickets are on sale at and Individual tickets for premium location seats start at $250.

Now in hardback: JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes

Based on first-person accounts from Dallas Morning News journalists, this gripping narrative chronicles President John F. Kennedy's fatal visit to Dallas hour-by-hour. Shortly after the assassination, reporters, photographers and editors wrote down their experiences. This volume includes copies of the original typewritten notes, giving readers access to the first draft of history. Available for pre-order at

JFK Commemorative Box Set

This commemorative box set includes a reprint of the complete edition of The News from Nov. 23, 1963, 10 historic photographs, a transcript of President Kennedy's "Unspoken Speech," and three collectible JFK50 cards. Available at

Source: Dallasnews

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