In Your Opinion: The Franklin Gazebo: Peace Is Not A Place

By Michael Steinbrück, East Millstone.

On Sept. 16 we cut a ribbon signifying the completion of the Franklin Township Gazebo. I can’t think of more perfect timing given some recent disagreements we have experienced in Franklin.

You see the gazebo is, more than anything, a place for active peacemaking and a place for reflection on what we can do to advance the cause of peace. It should serve as a reminder that it is only through human connection and celebration that we can move forward toward a more peaceful community and a more peaceful world.

We intentionally built the gazebo with eight pillars. At one point the builder accidentally installed 10 and I had them remove two that were not structurally necessary. The symbolism here it to remind people that Franklin has eight villages but we are one community … One Franklin.

It was to remind people that the events and gatherings held here should come from every corner of Franklin. That all are welcome here to share their gifts and to spend time in a place where their gifts and those of others will be welcomed and well-received. It is said that “Something does not become a gift until it is given.” To not share gifts is to make us less than what we might be. I think that idea applies to groups as well as individuals.

The Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council (FTCAC) logo was designed with this very idea in mind. The strands of the basket in varying colors represent the many people, groups, faiths and interests of our Franklin community. Each is individual and equally beautiful and together make for something far greater and even more exquisite. The Arts within the basket pulls the strands together and holds them in place bringing us closer as a community and making us stronger.

It is important to remember that the gazebo itself is not an outcome. It is itself a gift which if used as intended will provide a place for action, where work will be done through the arts to achieve the outcome of peace. That work will never end.

The most beautiful and important part of the gazebo is not the structure itself, but how the structure came to be, and the values that underlie what our community has created here. We all built this place together in service to one another. Residents. Businesses. Non-Profits. Government. Working together in partnership. Ethically. Transparently. Inclusively. In Community. We built this structure to create a beautiful, sustainable, accessible, and welcoming place for building community connection and belonging. We hope that the most important work is yet to come.

Gazebo is a somewhat mysterious word of uncertain origin. One educated guess from etymologists is that the ending –ebo, was taken from the Latin future tense and added to gaze, making a hybrid word that might mean “I will look” or “I shall see”. So when we gather here, in this place, let us make a shared commitment to a shared vision for peace. Let us look outward and see in all directions, at all people, to all of Franklin and to the world beyond.

I will end by sharing a word that some of you are familiar with and others not. There is a quality, a human virtue coming from African philosophy called Ubuntu.

Desmond Tutu said that when a person has Ubuntu it means they have grown into and understand that “there is no such thing as a solitary person. A person is a person through other persons. That we belong in the bundle of life. And I want you to be all you can be because that is the only way I can be all I can be. So, I need you to be you, so that I can be me.”


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