Turners Falls effort promotes peace through storefront signs

A peace sign in the window at LOOT found + made in Turners Falls.

A peace sign in the window at LOOT found + made in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A peace sign in the window at the Family Center in Turners Falls.

A peace sign in the window at the Family Center in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A peace sign in the window at The Upper Bend in Turners Falls.

A peace sign in the window at The Upper Bend in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A peace sign in the window at Great Falls Market in Turners Falls.

A peace sign in the window at Great Falls Market in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A peace sign in the window at The Brick House Community Resource Center in Turners Falls.

A peace sign in the window at The Brick House Community Resource Center in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ERIN-LEIGH HOFFMAN

Staff Writer

Published: 06-30-2024 8:24 AM

TURNERS FALLS — With the placement of signs in their windows, 23 businesses and organizations lining Avenue A and several side streets are voicing their interpretations of what peace means to them.

The effort, part of the “Turners Falls for Peace Project” facilitated by the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, is similar to one undertaken in downtown Greenfield in early 2023.

Laura Torraco, owner of Sage Green Botanicals, offered in a statement her perspective that peace begins on an individual level, which she tries to foster in her business.

“To me peace starts from within, and with our work here at the apothecary, we support folks as they navigate their goals through an initial place of radical self-acceptance,” Torraco said. “This self-acceptance is, to me, the initiatory step toward liberation and peace.”

Two employees of LOOT found + made, Casey Williams and Bronwen Hodgkinson, shared how they feel appreciative of the sentiment of peace shared by other business owners in Turners Falls.

“To me it signifies businesses that stand for kindness and acceptance,” Hodgkinson said of the signs. “There is so much happening in the world today and we want to live in peace.”

This perspective on peace as a community effort was expressed by several of those who display signs outside their organizations.

“We were glad to hang the peace sign on our window because it reflects MCSM’s core mission to promote non-violence and harmony in our community,” Mary King of Montague Catholic Social Ministries said in a statement.

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In the same vein, Parent and Family Program Director Stacey Langknecht at The Brick House Community Resource Center expressed that peace is a daily practice at the Third Street social services organization by “building a place that is hospitable to those with all different backgrounds and all different cultures.”

She added that this means working to mitigate conflict within the community as a part of The Brick House’s practice of peace. The Brick House was one of the first participants in the peace sign project in Turners Falls.

A similar effort took shape last year when Pat Hynes of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice began working with Greenfield tailor shop owner Hamdi Yildiz in early 2023. Yildiz was inspired to place a sign reading “Health Not War” in his window, mirroring the sign Hynes would hold outside in the Greenfield Common during standouts every Saturday. This began the “Greenfield Shops for Peace Project” that this subsequent Turners Falls effort stemmed from. Twenty-four Greenfield businesses put signs promoting peace in their windows, with some still present today.

Witnessing the project extend into Turners Falls is a source of inspiration for Hynes, and she remembers the joy she felt when the first businesses in Turners Falls were receptive to the plan.

“I find it inspiring and hopeful, witnessing the evolving village of Turners Falls, a post-industrial town remaking itself, with their shops and social service organizations so connected to their community,” Hynes said.

Hynes reflected on what peace means after a year and a half has passed since the peace sign project started.

“Peace in 2024, for me and so many others, is endangered in so many parts of the world and our own very divided country,” she said. “As one employee at Busy Bee Computers in Greenfield said to me, could their ‘peace’ sign speak, it would shout ‘Stop the Wars!’ For me and most of us, the place to begin working toward humane, positive change, to build the future we want, is in the communities in which we live.”

Erin-Leigh Hoffman can be reached at ehoffman@recorder.com or
413-930-4231.