Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Peacebus In The News

It’s hard to believe that something as simple as The Peacebus should gain sooooo much attention – but it’s true. Maybe because The Peacebus is not so simple.

Just last month, a photo of many of The Peacebus students surrounding an amazing peace of artwork hit the pages of The London Free Press…


… and just yesterday, an article about my adventures on The Peacebus made headlines again!

This time appearing in London’s second daily newspaper The Metro. Jill Ellis and I had a great chat about The Peacebus, Meadowlily Woods, protests surrounding the Mega-Quarry in Melanthon township and of course, my vegetable garden. All of these subjects have also been written about in this blog, over the last few months.

I just found this link to the above newstory, as found in the online version of London Metro - http://www.metronews.ca/london/comment/article/925413--a-new-peace-of-artwork-hits-the-road#commentbox - so that you can read the story about The Peacebus and the many other exciting events happening throughout the city. But for those of you who want to continue reading on this page, I’ve copied the story for you here. I’ve also added a few other artworks created by my students to add a splash of colour to your computer screen…


Written by Jill Ellis

Greenwashing has become vogue in these days of nearly universal concern about global warming. There’s a lot of talk, but not many who walk their talk. One of those who does is Jim Kogelheide.

Known to his thousands of Facebook friends as Peaceman Jim and to hundreds of London school children as Mr. Jim, Kogelheide is a peace activist, artist, art teacher and environmentalist all wrapped up in the guise of a bus driver.

For the past couple of years, he’s driven the ‘peacebus’, which is a regular Murphy Lines school bus decorated with art created by the kids who ride it every day to and from school.

Having studied graphic design at Fanshawe College, Kogelheide traveled around the country for five years with wife Joanne Custy, working on the Canada: Glorious To Be national mural project. The duo spent their time creating their art and talking to school kids and community groups about art, peace and the environment. Kogelheide and Custy returned to the city they loved and settled down here in 2004.

Though his Stikman series (stick figures spreading the peace message) has enjoyed some notoriety as he distributed it through the country during his travels, Kogelheide realized that being a full-time artist is a hard way to make a living. But a serendipitous moment came when he was gazing out the window of his Byron home one day, contemplating his next move down his winding life’s journey, when a school bus passed by. An epiphany occurred: as a school bus driver, he’d make a steady income and still have time for his twin passions of gardening his veggie patch and volunteering in community organizations that promote sustainable living and environmental causes.

After driving his plain bus for a while, Kogelheide noticed another driver had butterfly drawings all over hers. After checking with the boss, he posted some of his own peace-based artwork. The kids were intrigued. He threw it out as a challenge and got the kids excited about making art about peace and the environment. He offered a contest to up the ante a bit.

The kids love having their artwork displayed on the windows and ceilings of the peace bus, but none are displayed on windows that obstruct sightlines.

The peace bus rocks with kids’ voices raised in song and is one of the most colourful on the road. Give it a wave or thumbs up next time the peace bus rolls your way.

_ _ _ _ _ _

I wouldn’t even want to guess how much it would cost if I had to pay for one third of an entire page of newspaper, so I’m very grateful for this free publicity. It brings a smile to my face thinking that a few of my students and co-workers will see this story and keep it as a wonderful memory. It also makes me smile to think that many other bus drivers may read this story and be inspired to have their kids decorate their buses.

If I had to guess conservatively, I’d say that over 40, 000 Londoners read this story yesterday, seeing the words ‘peace’ and ‘environment’ used together in several sentences. I hope that this story sparked open a few of those minds to realize that these two words may be the most important words for this century!

Mr. Jim

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