Love Lives Here Puts Finishing Touches on Community Monument

By Beacon Staff

The benches are still under wraps, but members of Kalispell’s Love Lives Here, an independent affiliate of the Montana Human Rights Network, are excited about the newest addition to Woodland Park’s Community Spirit Monument. Four benches have been constructed near the monument that was dedicated in 2008. The group will be hosting a ceremony on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.

The benches are made with tiles painted by local community members when the gazebo was first built five years ago, according to Love Lives Here co-chair Will Randall, who helped organize the addition.

“I’m just happy to see all of the tiles that people put so much creativity into, will finally be used and appreciated by the public,” he said.

The small monument at the edge of the water was the brainchild of local sculptor Kay Lynn and a handful of other local artists in 2002.

“We wanted to create a place where a sense of community could be expressed,” she said.

More than 2,000 tiles were crafted for the structure and feature personal messages from people of all backgrounds.

According to co-chair Ina Albert, some of the tiles have pictures of animals or landscapes while others have messages of peace.

“It’s a beautiful memorial,” she said. “The whole monument coming together now is the result of years of work by local artists and people who love the community spirit of the Flathead Valley.”

With the new benches installed, Lynn said people would be able to use the gazebo as a gathering place to have political debates, puppet shows and poetry readings. One of the first events to be held with the new benches will be Oct. 12. Festivities will start at 2 p.m. and include music from Hannah Hickethier, a reading by Brooke Wahlert, a performance by a graduate of the Share Your Voice Foundation Workshop, the Crown of the Continent Choir and a review of the memorial’s history.

Although it has taken five years to finish the project, Lynn said it was worth the wait.

“This was an all volunteer effort and there was no outside money, that’s why it took five years,” she said.

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