May 05, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

To fully appreciate the coincidental connections I keep having with the World Peace Bell movement, I should explain how I’ve become a virtual tourist. In 2018, I reconnected with comedian and artist, Chris Bonno, a friend from grade school. When I complimented Chris on the sketches he was posting on-line he challenged me to join him in a daily drawing challenge.

Christchurch PeaceBell Pen and InkI’ve been at it ever since, drawing once a day and posting the results on my Instagram and Facebook pages.  And now in the time of coronavirus quarantines, I’ve focused my drawings on places my wife and I would love to visit someday. For this on-line tourism, I’m using Google Earth and Google Maps to get to know a new city each week. Recently I went to Christchurch in New Zealand and almost immediately stumbled upon the Peace Bell.

Most of Google Earth’s street views are just that - photos only from public streets. But there are some walking paths through popular venues such as markets or parks. In street view, I was wandering in Christchurch, a city I know almost nothing about, when I saw a trail leading through the Botanical Gardens. In a few minutes, spied a small pavilion. It looked like something worth exploring; and for me, that means something I can draw.

I was thrilled and completely surprised when I discovered it was the pavilion that houses the New Zealand Peace Bell. Actually, I had discovered the same bell, virtually, four years ago.

New Zealand Peace Bell Google image

I did a series of blog posts about the Peace Bell Movement sparked by a curious installation in Boston. The Boston Peace Bell is mounted on a plinth near the Boston Museum of Art. As physical tourists, my wife and I came upon the bell during a walk through the Fens.

The dedication plaque raised so many questions; I used my blog as an excuse to find out more. I illustrated my blog with a link to the New Zealand Peace Bell, representative of the global Peace Bell Movement. The story is still amazing and kept getting better thanks to a Boston historian who made contact after the first post. Here are the three posts covering this unusual story:

Boston Peace Bell a Forgotten Symbol of Reconciliation

Japanese Peace Bell Movement

Japanese Bell Symbolizes Peace and Resilience

So with that introduction, it seems fitting that I would find the Christchurch Peace Bell completely by accident while wandering around on Google Earth. The bell has its own Facebook Page that chronicles activities at the site. The place has been pretty busy of late with memorials for earthquake victims and gatherings in the wake of a senseless mosque shooting.

And of course, I drew the bell pavilion and posted it along with other scenes of Christchurch.