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Town wants to give 'gift to the world'

January 22, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - While it's still unknown whether there will be a Shepherdstown Peace Accord, a group of residents are taking another tact to forever link the town with peace.

Friends of the Peaceweaver wants to donate a "peace tapestry" to the U.S. Department of State to be displayed at future peace conferences around the world.

"It is our gift to the world," said Alaria Sun, 51, who is spearheading the fund-raising drive with friends Jan Scopel and Karin Stine.

But first the group must raise $8,000 to buy the tapestry from artist E. Thor Carlson, of Newport, N.H.

Last Sunday the group raised $1,200 to $1,400 in donations and pledges by having a Peace Feast and Concert at the Entler Hotel. The concert was free and featured local musicians and potluck dishes.

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The group is planning other fund-raisers and hopes to continue to have the tapestry on display at the Entler Hotel on East German Street until the end of the month.

Volunteers try to keep the display open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day so people can walk in and view the three-panel tapestry that took Carlson five months to weave.

The idea to buy and then donate the 4- by 9-foot tapestry came about with fortuitous timing.

The tapestry had been on display at the Stowell Gallery and DeBose Gallery in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., where it was viewed by Dr. Oscar Stine, Sun said.

Stine loved the tapestry so much he asked someone to make Christmas cards featuring its design. One of Sun's friends, Scopel, saw the card, and the idea to pursue the tapestry came on Jan. 1, two days before peace talks began in this college town between Syrian and Israeli dignitaries.

At that point Scopel wanted to get the tapestry from Harpers Ferry to Shepherdstown for the talks, but a week later when the talks broke off he and Sun came up with the idea of buying the tapestry to send it around the world.

"I felt as a citizen of Shepherdstown that our position, our job, so to speak, was to be an underlying fabric for these negotiations," Sun said.

Sun said no photograph has been able to capture the beauty of the tapestry's design and that it personally touched her.

"I will never be the same because of my experience and interaction with this artwork," Sun said.

The peaceweaver comes from Icelandic tradition where a peaceweaver was called in to resolve conflicts, Sun said.

Sun hopes the Peacemaker tapestry will be carried around the world as a symbol of Shepherdstown's support of peace.

A spokesman in the State Department's Middle East Bureau said called the project "a laudable initiative."

"Everybody loves Shepherdstown. It was great and everybody responded favorably to the hospitality and warmth and support of the community there," said the spokesman, who refused to give his name.

Tax-deductible donations can be made toward the purchase of the tapestry by writing checks out to the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County and mailing them to AHA!, Entler Hotel, P.O. Box 1786, Shepherdstown, W.Va., 25443.

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