“THE SOUNDS OF PEACE”
With recent headlines highlighting the amount of negativity and hate in our world, we feel it is imperative to recognize and encourage the power of kindness.
We have many on-going projects throughout the community aimed at spreading kindness and promoting compassion. We have been able to provide these services primarily through the sales and raffles of our Peace Bells.
These bells are created from recycled scuba tanks and feature original works of art donated by Florida Keys artists. All of our bells are made from steel dive tanks because they have the best sound, and each bell is specially crafted by local volunteers, with most tanks being donated from surrounding dive shops.
First, the bells are cut, and then they are sandblasted, painted and clear-coated. To see and hear one of these bells in person, please visit one of our “Peace Bell Keepers” and Compassionate Business Partners at Bitton Bistro, Burton Memorial Methodist Church, the Francis Tracy Garden Center, Island Dolphin Care, Scuba Tech or the Island Hammock Pet Hospital.
Bells for Sale/Raffle
“Where I want to be!” now called “Keys Strong”
This Peace Bell was created by artist Nathan Williams.
After its introduction at our Kindness Festival on April 9th, you can see, ring, and buy raffle tickets for this bell is being raffled. For more information about what KeysStrong stands for, to purchase a raffle ticket ($10 each/3 for $25), or to just ring the bell and support our beautiful Keys recovering from Irma, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Silver Flyer” (already purchased)
The “Silver Flyer” was painted by Katie McCosh and Jonny Bartek who recently moved to the Florida Keys. This Peace Bell was purchased by a tourist who currently lives in upper Florida and we wish him well and hope he thoroughly enjoys the bell each time he rings it or views it wherever he’s hung it.
“Practice Random Kindness”
Since the restaurant where this Peace Bell was displayed, the Encore, in Key Largo, was destroyed by Irma and will rebuilt as something else, we are hopeful that the Peace Bell will continue to be displayed at the Fish House in the future.
Artists Zoe Scroggs, Mitchell Shulman, Wayne Scaturro and Marlene DeTienne have all given their intent to create the next batch of “Sounds of Peace” bells.
Wayne & Marlene have created bells before. Marlene’s bell is in the catalog, below, and Wayne was commissioned to created a peace bell for Compasionate Business Partner, Prana, as well as another bell for Burton Memorial Methodist Church.
Zoe & Mitch are new artists to our group. Zoe has completed her bell, “Peaceful Lionfish” (pictured, at left), and she has a website (zoescroggs.com) where she sells, not only her paintings, but also beautiful quilts and wall hangings.
Stay tuned, as the water is warm, and the sound of peace bells ringing is truly sweet!
History of the Peace Bell
The original batch of 23 steel dive tanks came to us from Key Largo’s Ocean Divers, facilitated by the late Ginger Gibson, one of our volunteers.
Another volunteer, Rick Celmer, cut the tanks down to size then additional terrific volunteers sandblasted and primed the tanks. At this point they were blank “peace bells.”
The bells were outfitted with bell-ropes and ringers and then were presented to local artists to paint. After the bells were painted, they were clear-coated by Tavernier’s Paul Page’s Auto Body with the same compound used on cars so the bells could be hung outside in any weather.
The bells were then hung in the Royal Poinciana tree in front of Peace Bell artist Pasta Panteleo‘s Signature Gallery in Islamorada where the Drepung Gomang Monks blessed the bells in a ceremony on May 14, 2011. All the artists were there with a “bell ringer,” a child, related to the artist, or a close friend, who was assigned to the individual bell.
The bells then went on to be displayed at local businesses. These businesses came to be known as Peace Bell Keepers, a phrase coined by Sylvie Bitton, owner of Bitton Bistro Café in Islamorada, one of our first Peace Bell Keepers. Some bells were sold outright and others donated to our nonprofits partners in the Upper Keys.
One of the earliest nonprofits to benefit from a bell donation was Island Dolphin Care; the donated bell was painted by Patrick Veillon called Blue Anemone.
Our nonprofit partners would usually choose which bell they wished to receive, or, failing that, Keys to Peace picked out a bell for them, raffle tickets were sold (the maximum limit on tickets sold for any bell was 200), a winning ticket was drawn at, usually, a fundraising event for the nonprofit partner; the winner got the bell and the nonprofit partner got the cash from raffle ticket sales.
As raffle tickets were sold, bells were displayed at events or by Peace Bell Keepers. One popular store was Betty’s Health Food in Key Largo (pictured here). At Island Dolphin Care’s annual fundraising event, “I Do Care” in November 2011, the winning ticket was drawn and Patrick Veillon even helped the winner install the bell at his home (pictured here, upper right).
The next to profit raffling off a bell was Voices for Florida Keys Children. This new bell, created especially for their event, and not a part of the original 23, depicted the four seasons of the Florida Keys: beaches, fishing, diving and swimming, also painted by Patrick Veillon.
One of the first Peace Bells to sell was a seahorse design by artist Brooke Spaulding. The bell was purchased by local supporter, and lifetime member of Keys to Peace, Kathy Lasseter, shown in the image to the right, with Brooke and the bell (Brooke is on the left).
Bells continued to sell. Then, in 2012, to promote the remaining bells, the Peace Bells in Paradise Raffle was offered to the public with rack cards displayed all over the Upper Keys, showing where each bell was physically located and where the public could buy a raffle ticket.
The first bell of the PBIP raffle to have a winning ticket drawn was “Lively Lorelei” by artist Cynthia (C Ré) Robbins. The winner was member Angie Lucas and the ticket was drawn at an International Peace Day event at the Rain Barrel Artisans Village in Islamorada.
Our nonprofit partners are also enjoying the results of raffles in their honor. In 2013, Island Dolphin Care received a check for $1,775.00 as a result of raffling off the Peace Bell “Watersplash Delight” by artist Elena Ortega. The winner of that bell lives in Lower Matecumbe; he and his wife, who chose to remain anonymous, plan to display the bell at the entrance to their estate.
Peace Bells in Paradise bells continued with winning tickets drawn for bells donated to our other nonprofit partners The Good Health Clinic (“Positivity” by artist Mike Willcox) and The Domestic Abuse Shelter (“Sunset with Mangroves” by artist Veronica Gutierrez).
Not related to the raffles or PBIP campaign, occasional sales were held, slashing the price of a bell. Pictures, shown here, are from one recipients of a Peace Bell. Alanna Worrell purchased her bell during one such summer sale in 2013 for her son, Rich, who has significant neurological disabilities but who loves music and sounds, especially when he is the one making the music or sound. They first saw the bells at Island Dolphin Care when visiting for dolphin therapy, which they do yearly. They hung the bell in their beach house in Wilmington, NC.
As of 2015, of the original 25 (23 plus the 2 extra) bells, one bell remains: “Peaceful Village” painted by artist Liz Queeny. The winning ticket was drawn for the second-to-last bell, “Infinite Blue” by artist Gloria Avner on Sunday, Sept 21, 2014 at our International Day of Peace event (click here for more details).
On Sept 20, 2015, at our Kindness to Self event at Founders Park, the winning ticket was drawn for the last of the original Peace Bells. The winner immediately donated the bell to Keys to Peace—we were thrilled! This was the bell that used to grace our traveling peace arch, and people would admire it and ask if it was for sale or going up for auction. So we waited a long time to part with it, and now we have it back. It is currently being displayed outside of Bitton’s Bistro in Islamorada.