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  • Carol Swartout Klein

Painting for Peace in Ferguson Book


Layla Dog Press and author Carol Swartout Klein are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of a children’s book based on the Paint for Peace community effort in Ferguson and the South Grand neighborhood with an anticipated delivery date before year’s end. The book titled PAINTING FOR PEACE IN FERGUSON tells the story of the hundreds of artists and volunteers who worked to transform boarded up windows into works of art with messages of hope, healing, and unity. All proceeds after printing costs will go to benefit North County youth and art programs as well as the businesses and employees affected by damage or loss of business.

The publisher requests that anyone who participated in the Paint for Peace project or has high-resolution photographs they’re willing to donate for possible inclusion in the book contact: prior to December 15.

Author Carol Swartout Klein, who is sponsoring the project and who grew up in the Ferguson area, was inspired by the Mister Rogers quote that reminds children to always look for helpers when scary things happen. “It occurred to me that if adults are having a hard time processing and talking about the events of the last three months — how are children coping? So we designed this book to be a tool for parents and teachers to begin the conversation. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, it was so inspiring to see people young and old, black and white come together to transform boarded up windows from something intimidating to children into something so positive.”

Centered on a child-friendly poem penned by Klein, the book does not go into the specifics of what caused the unrest, but rather focuses on the way the community came together to begin the healing process through the art of the Paint for Peace effort. “We did not go into detail because we felt it was important for parents to be able to talk about what happened in Ferguson in a way that was age appropriate for their child and that reflects each family’s perspective,” said Klein. A website is being developed that will include additional resources for parents and teachers to help them talk about the issues raised in Ferguson.

Award-winning local book designer Michael Kilfoy notes that the book will feature photographs of many of the works of art. “We have a fairly complete photographic inventory of all of the art in both the South Grand and Ferguson area. However, as this was a spontaneous effort, we would welcome additional photographs taken by those involved. Specifically we are looking for high-resolution images of the artists and volunteers working on the project to consider for inclusion in the book. And we hope that people will reach out and get in touch with us.”

Publisher Kristina Blank Makansi of Layla Dog Press agreed, “We are hoping to acknowledge as many of the artists and volunteers as we can track down to include in the book credits. While the book will not be able to show all of the artwork, we still want to acknowledge all of those involved in this amazing effort.” Makansi noted that if the book proves popular there may be other projects that do showcase all of the artwork produced.

“We recognize that this is just one step in a long healing process for our community,” said Klein. As the final line from the book states, “The work is not finished, there’s much more to be done. But this art shows the spirit of a new Ferguson.”

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