Environments for Peace
Continuing The Tradition
George Nakashima, over a period of many years, started from a humble tent in the woods of New Hope, Pennsylvania to build an environment of peace, stone on stone or concrete block, from traditional wooden construction to buildings with glass walls and ribbon windows, warped shells of plywood and reinforced concrete, each sheltering a collection of lumber, living or working spaces within. Created to embrace and enhance nature, rather than to dominate it, each building is uniquely adapted to its purpose, built of necessity, honest materials and minimalist principles before “Minimalism” had a name.
In 1984, when the opportunity to purchase an enormous American Walnut log of extraordinary quality arose, Nakashima dreamed that each continent of the world should have a safe harbor for peaceful activities centered around an Altar of Peace made from this log.
The first site was the ecumenically inclined Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City under Dean James Parks Morton for the continent of North America, sponsored by Steven Rockefeller and countless other donors, installed on New Year’s Eve in 1986. After a fire in the Cathedral, the Altar was brought out of storage and re-dedicated in 2010, with music by Paul Winter on his saxophone and Lakota Tiokasin Ghosthorse on his Native American spirit flute.
George Nakashima had been reaching out to the Soviet Union when he died in 1990, and in 1989 asked Irene Goldman to help him in this endeavor. Irene spent twelve years exploring the physical and organizational possibilities in Russia, and finally helped place an altar-table at the Russian Academy of Art in Moscow in 2001. This Sacred Peace Table was re-dedicated on its tenth anniversary in Moscow on September 25th 2011 by a global telephone bridge to New York and Auroville, India.
In 1996, Carel Thieme of Auroville, India, the international “City of Peace” founded by Mother Mira of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1968, decided that a third one be placed in Auroville as a unifying force, where it will soon have a permanent home in the Unity Pavilion. There was a rededication ceremony of the Peace Table at dawn on the building site in 2009 in Auroville.