The Peace Symbol on the hilltop in the northwest corner of the park is a work of public art that unknown artists created at an uncertain time. Tracking the spot on Google Earth suggests that it was probably put together around the turn of the millennium. The artists carried in rocks from a construction site somewhere outside the park, possibly from the nearby Brickyard. Most of these are not rocks from the rip-rap that forms the outer armor of the park. No one seems to remember or have photos of what it looked like immediately after its construction. It’s not clear how much maintenance it enjoyed, if any. In early 2018, when I stumbled on its stones and figured out there was a design, it was heavily overgrown with weeds. It took two of us about six hours spread over five days to clear it out, and $20 in mulch to make it glow.
Since then, stewardship of the Peace Symbol has become an annual affair. A Berkeley family’s tragedy turned out to be this artwork’s blessing. The family of young Asa Scholz put up a memorial bench for him directly facing the Peace Symbol. Members of Asa’s family and friends, with Chavez Park Conservancy support, come each year with tools and muscle to clear the weeds and make the Peace Symbol pretty again. As if to join in the spirit, a vigorous Tree Aeonium (Aeonium arboreum) with an origin as mysterious as the stones, brightens the scene with dramatic springtime blooms.