Making a sign
One cross at a time, one lawn at a time. That's the goal of Crosses4Peace.org. "We're a very small group trying to take a very big idea and spread it to a larger geographic audience," explains Joanne Gifford, president of the project's parent organization, United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy (UNCOIL). Inspired by memorials such as Arlington West in Santa Monica and contractor Jeffrey Heaton's hillside effort in Lafayette, Crosses4Peace urges people to place a single white cross in their front yard as a universal symbol of war and death, to honor everyone killed in Iraq; U.S. military deaths now number over 3,100. "We felt the public had become desensitized to the reality of the war," Gifford explains. "We thought this would be a great way for people to individually place a visual reminder of the fact that people are still dying." Instead of more than 3,000 crosses in one place, the aim is to put one cross in at least 3,000 places, if not many, many more. "They are visually stunning in their singularity, when you see them against the backdrop of the homes," Gifford says. Individuals can decorate their cross as they choose. Some have added a Star of David, others a peace sign or the word "Peace," and still others use all three. Volunteers have already crafted 200 white wooden crosses, each 36 inches high and 18 inches wide, and do-it-yourself instructions are on the project's website. About 170 crosses have been distributed. While most are in Napa County, at least some have been installed in Sonoma and Lake counties, and a few are on their way to the South Bay. When a cross is placed in someone's front yard, Gifford says, it generates questions from neighbors and usually requests for more crosses. Crosses4Peace organizers hope the project will continue to grow, neighborhood by neighborhood and friend to friend in a truly grassroots movement. "We're hoping people will pick up the idea and make and distribute crosses in their own area," Gifford notes. "One of our goals is to spread this nationwide if not worldwide.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is asking the federal government to add Marin and Sonoma to the list of 18 California counties declared official disaster areas because of freezing temperatures that hit the state Jan. 11 to Feb. 7. In recent letters to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Schwarzenegger asked for disaster status and cited the damage done to hay crops and pasture worth more than $1.4 million in Sonoma and more than $1.5 million in Marin County.