On a recent warm, sunny Saturday, an old-fashioned peace “happening” took place up a windy canyon dirt road near Nipomo.
Signs attached to trees beckoned drivers: “Camels for Peace,” “Giraffes for Peace” and “Zebras for Peace.”
When we arrived at the Los Berros Peace Park, we were greeted by a white Guinea hen.
People were dressed hippie style: tie-dye outfits, lots of beads, peace signs and multiple designs and colors. A rock ’n’ roll band with a ’60s sound was performing on the bandstand, with a Janis Joplin-like sound (minus the bottle in paper bag).
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A sumptuous array of homemade food decorated a large table.
A wine and beer table stood nearby. People were dancing, sitting on the ground eating and happily greeting friends.
Another table held various objects to be raffled, such as a tie-dye baby outfit, handmade cotton aprons, bottles of wine, cacti and two nights in the “fallout shelter.”
The “fallout shelter,” painted in bright yellow with the nuclear radiation symbol on the front, was a trailer with a bed and stove inside.
Laurie Laughlin and her partner, Chaz Andree, who’ve been living on the property for 12 years, decided to create a peace park six years ago.
Laurie grew up in Los Angeles. In 1975, along with her two daughters and ex-husband she drove up and down the coast looking for a peaceful place to live.
They fell in love with this area.
The idea of the peace park came out of “my frustration with the Iraq war,” Laurie said.
About five years ago, they cleared rocks, which went to create a labyrinth on the property. People brought plants, two olive trees and sculptures.
They made multiple mosaics and turned CDs into peace signs and hung them from the trees.
Even the cement blocks have peace signs encased in them.
“It was a love thing,” she added. “It has given us all great joy.”
Each year, they’ve had an Earth Day celebration around the spring equinox.
This year, they decided to make it a benefit for anti-nuclear group Mothers for Peace.
Laurie believes we should find other methods of power generation, such as wind or solar, or possibly turning power off for a period of time to save energy.
The event brought in $1,000 through the raffle, and wine and beer sales, the most money any of their events have made. All was donated to Mothers for Peace.
Music at the peace event was provided by Valerie Johnson and Al B. Blue Blues Band — with Valerie doing the Janis Joplin-like vocals. Songwriter Cliff Stepp, singers Jani Baldwin and Dana Bailey also performed.
Gayle Cuddy’s column runs every other week in South County Beat. Anyone with story ideas involving interesting people in the South County can reach her at 489-1026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.