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In Search of Peace

A Culinary Journey Uniting Our Community

Article by Joy Matsuura and Michael Stein

Photography by Rev. Carol Mariano, Brooks Kahsai

Originally published in Mercer Island City Lifestyle

When it comes to the themes of peace, unity, and community, food has always been a powerful symbol. Sharing a meal or a drink with someone is an act of fellowship, a gesture that transcends languages and cultures. On August 19, Mercer Island saw a unique fusion of these ideas when the local United Methodist Church on First Hill unveiled a newly installed Peace Pole in its garden.

The Mercer Island community was invited to attend this dedication, reaffirming our commitment to promoting peace and understanding. Proclaiming “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in eight languages, this pole will join the other beacons of hope that grace the parks, schools and places of worship throughout the community. The Peace Pole is intended to be a beacon of hope and a testament to the diverse heritage that makes Mercer Island a cultural haven.

A Celebration of Peace and Unity

The dedication ceremony was a wonderful blend of solemnity and celebration. Attendees gathered around the Peace Pole, united in their shared commitment to peace and understanding. Amid uplifting music and a brief ceremony, a spirit of shared humanity pervaded the air, a reminder of the importance of peace in these uncertain times.

Following the ceremony, the atmosphere shifted to that of a jovial neighborhood gathering with a lemonade social in the church’s Fellowship Hall. The crisp, tangy lemonade, served in tall glasses, was a refreshing counterpoint to the summer heat and a symbol of the sweet harmony we all yearn for.

Food, Fellowship, and Reflection

As the attendees sipped their lemonade, they engaged in activities like rock painting, while sharing reflections on peace. The humble act of painting rocks together served as a reminder that unity and beauty can be found in the simplest of activities.

What was truly special about this gathering, however, was the opportunity it provided for attendees to connect over food and drink. Laughter echoed through the hall as residents, both young and old, exchanged stories, shared experiences, and discussed the importance of peace in their lives.

The Story Behind the Peace Pole

The Peace Pole is an Eagle Scout project by Islander Nathan Yang from Troop 647. Amid the distressing escalation of conflict in Ukraine and rising tensions across the globe, Nathan felt a compelling need to bring the message of peace to the forefront.

Commissioned in 2022, the Peace Pole was meant to instill optimism in the midst of a pandemic and war. It also serves as a symbol of hope for the Mercer Island High School's graduating class, inspiring young graduates to strive for peace as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

The Cuisine of Peace

As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, let's take a moment to appreciate the diverse culinary landscape of Mercer Island. Each language inscribed on the Peace Pole represents not just a culture, but a unique cuisine, a rich tapestry of flavors that brings us closer together.

As Mercer Island City Lifestyle readers, let us celebrate this diversity. Whether it's a Korean kimchi stew, a Chinese dim sum, Spanish paella, Norwegian klippfisk, Swahili pilau, a Hebrew challah bread, or a Lakota wasna, let these dishes serve as reminders of our shared commitment to peace and love of food.

In conclusion, the unveiling of the Peace Pole serves as a reminder of the importance of peace, unity, and community. As we celebrate these values, let's also use this as an opportunity to explore the diverse cuisines that make up our community, reminding us that through food and fellowship, we can find common ground, even in the most challenging times.

  • Nathan Yang and friends
  • Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony, Aug. 19, 2023
  • Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony, Aug, 19, 2023
  • Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony, Aug, 19, 2023